Lawmakers look to partially restore cuts to Kansas Universities System

Capitol Bureau

Kansas lawmakers are working to finalize the state’s budget. 

A joint budget committee met throughout the day Tuesday, trying to find common ground on how much money to give to state departments. 

“We have a long way to go in this process,” said Senate budget chairwoman Sen. Carolyn McGinn, R-Sedgwick.

Across the street from the Capitol, Kansas Board of Regents President Blake Flanders was keeping an eye on one topic.

“Our advocacy is for the entire cuts to be restored,” Flanders said.

In 2016, the university system took a 4 percent cut which resulted in the loss of about $24 million. 

“Tuition has gone higher as those state funding cuts have come upon our system,” explained Flanders. 
Recently, Pittsburg State University announced it was cutting 19 positions due to the lack of money from the state.

“We know that’s a real hit to a fragile southeast Kansas economy,” added Flanders.

This week, lawmakers in the House and Senate both passed budget bills restoring different amounts to the university system.

“At this point, neither chamber has moved from their respective position,” explained House budget chairman Rep. Troy Waymaster, R-Bunker Hill. 

“I’m hoping we’ll take the Senate position which provides a higher percentage of restoration,” said State Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka. 

Under the House’s proposal, the state would give $12 million dollars to the university system. 

Waymaster said the amount is all the state can afford right now. 

“We obviously want to go back and revisit that in the next legislative session, and see where the revenues are coming in at, and see if there is any possible way to see if we can do the other 50 percent to make the regent universities whole once again,” he said. 

Under the Senate’s proposal, the state would give the system $17.9 million dollars. 

“There is a direct correlation between the general funding that we use to support our universities and the price for tuition for our kids. So if we give them this money, they can hold the line on tuition raises,” explained Kelly. 

The legislative session comes to an end on Friday. Lawmakers could have a budget agreement in place as early as Wednesday. 

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