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More money sought for Kansas universities

Updated: 2013-09-20T04:10:37Z

The Associated Press

— The Kansas Board of Regents asked the governor Thursday to restore tens of millions of dollars in higher education spending that was cut this spring.

Chairman Fred Logan said regents made the request even though its fiscal 2014 budget already has been approved because it has a responsibility to advocate for the state’s universities and colleges.

“The board understands that it is in a unique position,” said Logan, a Leawood Republican.

The biggest amount would be more than $35 million that was cut from the six state universities’ budgets over the next two years. The reductions came as part of across-the-board spending cuts and salary reductions on the campuses. The regents will receive more than $750 million for higher education from the state general fund in the current fiscal year.

The request was adopted by a voice vote, sending it to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. The request makes no reference to future tuition rates, although the nine-member board has considered keeping rates flat if funding were restored.

Logan said Brownback would likely seek amendments to the state budget, and regents want their priorities considered. That includes an $8 million increase for career and technical education programs at state community colleges and vocational schools.

“We want to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle,” Logan said.

Legislators will tour campuses in October to assess the schools’ needs and to gather information about what each state university is doing to fulfill its mission. In advance of the tours, lawmakers sent a list of 81 questions that they want answered about higher education, said Board of Regents spokeswoman Mary Jane Stankiewicz.

“We need to keep in mind, this is our time to tell our story,” she said.

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