Jayhawks for Higher Education: April 11, 2017

Dear Jayhawks for Higher Education,

The Kansas Legislature’s regular session ended last Friday, April 7, and legislators are home for three weeks before returning to Topeka May 1. Unfortunately, the House and Senate made little progress on the major issues of the year: revenue, the budget and the K-12 finance formula. The Legislature did pass the rescission bill, which put the state in the black for the current fiscal year ending June 30 without any additional cuts to the state’s universities.

May 1 marks the beginning the “veto session,” which takes its name from an era when the Legislature would reconvene only to consider bills vetoed by the governor and pass the omnibus budget bill. In recent years, these extra days have become a continuation of the regular session. With so much work to do, the veto session could stretch into June.

Although the final budgets for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 remain uncertain, KU and K-State have made progress to reverse the disproportionate cuts made by the governor last year, when reductions to KU and K-State were based on “all funds” budgets, including research grants—essentially penalizing the two universities for their research. Sen. Vicki Schmidt, a KU alumna and one of 24 graduates in the Jayhawk Caucus, helped craft an amendment to make the cuts to higher education more equitable. The amendment reduces the 5.1 percent cut for KU and K-State to 3 percent by fiscal year 2019 and makes the higher education block grant equitable for Regents universities. This change is important because the FY19 budget will be the basis for future budgets proposed by the next governor.

While legislators are home this month, I hope you will attend local legislative events and emphasize the critical importance of stable funding for higher education. Many legislators announce their community forums via Facebook, so please check their Facebook pages for event details or reach out personally to your senators and representatives.

In addition, if you would like to receive legislative information via your mobile device, please download our JHE app.

Rock Chalk,

Heath Peterson, d’04, g’09