Turnaround Day update: Senate committees to consider higher education budget next week
Dear Jayhawk for Higher Education:
Today is Turnaround Day in the Kansas Legislature — the unofficial halfway point of the session — making it a good time to update you on activities affecting higher education and the University of Kansas. Specifically, we want to make you aware of two important committee meetings next week during which Senators will consider the state’s higher education budget.
KU’s top priority this session is to maintain our current level of funding from the state. In mid-February, Chancellor Gray-Little presented to the House Education Budget Committee and the Senate Ways & Means Subcommittee on Education. Last week, we received good news when the full House Appropriations Committee approved flat funding for higher education for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017. Now it’s the Senate Ways & Means Subcommittee on Education’s turn to act, which it will do when it convenes Wednesday, March 4, at noon, though possibly earlier that morning. The subcommittee’s recommendations will then be considered by the full Senate Ways and Means Committee the following day.
Action by the Senate Ways and Means Committee — like the commitment to flat funding by the House Appropriations Committee — is an important milestone in the budget-making process, so Wednesday and Thursday will be pivotal for higher education. We will update you on committee activity and outcomes promptly.
A reminder: Higher education has already been cut 2 percent for the rest of the fiscal year, per Governor Brownback’s allotments announced earlier this month. The cuts amount to $4.8 million for KU, including $2.7 million for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses and $2.1 million for the KU Medical Center.
And of course, the larger context remains: There is still no clear picture of the state’s overall revenue situation for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 or how revenues will impact budgets.
To date, no progress has been made on KU’s other priorities for the session, including funding for the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center, the Drug & Vaccine Discovery Institute in Lawrence, or much-needed pay increases for the KU Medical Center. The House Appropriations Committee in mid-February did agree with our proposal for bonding authority for a new residence hall and for restorations to Corbin Hall.
The Legislature is scheduled to break today and return next Wednesday — making the next few days a great time to catch your legislators back home in your district. We encourage you to visit with them and remind them of the important work KU does to grow the state economy and keep Kansans healthy. And as always, we encourage you to check in routinely with the Jayhawks for Higher Education site and the KU Office of Public Affairs’ state relations site. If you’d like to contact your legislators, you can get their contact info by ZIP code here.
Again, thank you for your support. We look forward to working with you on behalf of KU.
Kevin J. Corbett, c’88
President, KU Alumni Association