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Kansas Lawmakers Look at Redistributing University Funding Cuts

The University of Kansas campus. (Photo by J Schafer)

UPDATE- A Senate committee has moved to restore some funding to universities.

Kansas Senators crafting a budget plan says it's unlikely they'll reverse funding cuts made to higher education, but they could adjust how the cuts are distributed.

Higher education took cuts this fiscal year approaching $40 million. Republican Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning says it looks like those reductions will continue into the coming fiscal year’s budget.

“That ship has sailed,” says Denning.

However, Denning says they may look at trying to equalize the cuts. Lawmakers added a provision to the budget last year that didn’t distribute the 4 percent budget cut equally. Instead, it was distributed proportionally. Denning supported that move initially, but now calls it an “error in logic” that needs to be corrected.

Under the provision, universities with the largest budgets took a larger percentage cut. The University of Kansas and Kansas State University were reduced 5.1 percent. That’s almost double the Emporia State University cut, which amounted to 2.7 percent.

Democratic Senator Laura Kelly says that means the universities that attract the most research grants got hit the hardest.

“KU and K-State bring in millions upon millions of dollars of research funds, which is a good thing, and they got punished for it,” says Kelly.

Kelly would like to restore the funding cuts, but with lawmakers facing a budget deficit, she believes that isn’t in the cards.

“At least if we can make it equitable, fair to KU, fair to K-State, that’s the best we’re going to be able to do this year,” says Kelly.

The Board of Regents is not in favor of redistributing the cuts, which would reduce funding to smaller universities. The regents would prefer lawmakers add some additional money to even out the reductions.

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