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Kansas Senate Committee Votes to Block KU Construction Project

Senator Tom Arpke speaking to reporters after the meeting. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)
Senator Tom Arpke speaking to reporters after the meeting. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

A state Senate committee has voted to block payments from the University of Kansas for a new construction project. That would effectively put the project on hold.

Some lawmakers are unhappy that KU financed the deal without seeking legislative approval. More than $300 million in bonds were issued to construct new buildings on the Lawrence campus.

Republican Senator Tom Arpke says lawmakers shouldn't be left in the dark.  

“We just really need to know what’s going on. I really refuse to allow state dollars, taxpayer dollars, student dollars to be expended without the details of how it’s going to happen,” says Arpke.

Others contend that info on the project was publicly available. Democratic Senator Laura Kelly opposes Arpke’s plan.

“We just need to call this for what it is, which is just a continued attack on our flagship university and it doesn’t do our state any good in terms of our reputation or our ability to recruit and obtain high quality folks,” says Kelly.
KU officials are scheduled to appear before lawmakers Tuesday. Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs Tim Caboni says they look forward to answering questions. KU officials have said state tax dollars won't be used for the project.
The Kansas House is also considering sanctions against KU for issuing the bonds without legislative consent.

Stephen Koranda is KPR's Statehouse reporter.