Legislature to consider restoring higher ed funding

  Tuesday, April 30, 2019 3:00 PM
  Academics, News

Pittsburg, KS

President Steve Scott

When Kansas Legislators return for veto session this Wednesday, they're planning to consider restoration of funding to higher education — a critical move, said Kansas Board of Regents Chair Dennis Mullin, to ensure universities, community colleges, and technical colleges are affordable and accessible to all 

“During the past few months, we have heard from numerous business leaders about a growing talent gap in Kansas,” he said. “Higher education offers our state the best path towards closing that gap and ensuring prosperity for Kansas families and businesses. 

On Monday afternoon, PSU President Steve Scott, PSU Chief Strategy Officer Shawn Naccarato, and Legislative Liaison Riley Scott held a Legislative Town Hall to share with staff, faculty, and the campus community this legislative session's progress and how decisions made ultimately might impact Pittsburg State University. That Town Hall can be viewed at http://pittstate.tv/ 

“It’s a huge year for us, the stakes are very high,” Steve Scott said.  

As it stands, the budget committees have agreed to an additional $16.4 million increase. The Senate plans to review language that would add an additional $33 million in base funding to the public higher education system.  

State universities in Kansas have endured dramatic funding cuts since Fiscal Year 2009, with a loss of $100 million statewide. This year, funding was partially restored, but still is at a $69 million deficit.  

Among other highlights of their update: 

  • The House adopted Gov. Kelly’s 2.5 percent pay raise for state employees; the Senate did not. 
  • The K-12 funding lawsuit (which could be detrimental to higher education), Medicaid expansion (passed by the House and Senate in2017but vetoed by Gov. Brownback), and whether KPERS is fully fundedare all topics to watch. 
  • PSU and the Board of Regents are aggressively advocating in Topeka for higher education.

Business leaders are advocating, as well. During the 2019 Legislative session, more than 80 Kansas business leaders sent letters to legislators to advocate for restoration of funding for higher education.  

The requested restoration of funding aligns with the Regents’ strategic goals of increasing the number of Kansans with a certificate, degree, or other credential, and will help keep higher education affordable for students and their families. 

The Regents’ unified appropriations request for Fiscal Year 2020 includes $50 million for state universities. It also requests tuition assistance for National Guard Members, full funding for the Excel in Career Technical Education Initiative, funding for the postsecondary tiered and non-tiered technical state aid gap, and state aid for Washburn University.