Archive for Tuesday, June 4, 2013

KU officials assessing effects of Legislature’s budget cuts

June 4, 2013

Topeka — After the Kansas Legislature approved higher education budget cuts that one Kansas University official called "devastating," KU leaders are working to figure out just where those cuts are going to fall.

Because the cuts are different from the proposed plans presented earlier by the state House and Senate, and because they come with additional stipulations about areas where KU cannot make reductions, it's not yet clear what the specific budget effects will be at KU, spokesman Jack Martin said Monday.

"Any cutbacks that will result will be in accordance with the strategic plan," Martin said. "We want to be deliberate about how we implement the cuts that the Legislature has made."

Martin said it's not clear exactly when KU officials will determine the precise effects of the cuts, though the start of the next fiscal year on July 1 provides a deadline less than a month away.

In the legislative session that ended early Sunday morning, the Kansas Legislature approved a $66 million cut to higher education over two years. The cuts included a 3 percent across-the-board budget cut and a cap on salary expenses.

Tim Caboni, KU's vice chancellor for public affairs, said over the weekend the cuts would be "devastating." Over the two years, the cuts total about $5.3 million to KU's Lawrence campus and $8.3 million for the KU Medical Center.

Caboni said the cuts would cause KU's Lawrence campus to lose 38 faculty positions and force the Medical Center to lose at least 30 nursing student slots and 15 residency positions.

In addition to the broader budget cuts, the appropriations bill approved by the Legislature early Sunday morning fell far short of what Gov. Sam Brownback had proposed for the Medical Center.

When the session started, Brownback recommended $35 million in bonding authority and $10 million from the state over two years to build a new medical education building and training facility.

The total cost of the building is estimated at $75 million, and KU has made its construction a priority, saying the current facility is outdated.

But as the request went through the legislative process, it got whittled down substantially. KUMC did not receive any state general fund support for the project, but the appropriations bill adds $1 million from the state education building fund for the proposal.

Meanwhile, the Kansas Board of Regents will consider tuition and fee proposals from the state's universities on Thursday.

Board members wanted to wait until after the 2013 legislative session to hold the initial discussion on tuition. The board will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday in its boardroom in the Curtis State Office Building.

Last year, the regents approved a 4.9 percent increase in tuition and fees at KU for incoming freshmen under a compact that guarantees that rate for four years.

KU has not released its tuition and fee proposal yet.

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