Jayhawks for Higher Education: March 27, 2015

Senate passes budget bill that includes $9.4 million cut to KU-Lawrence

Dear Jayhawk for Higher Education:

In our previous Jayhawks for Higher Education message, we informed you that the Senate Ways and Means Committee on March 5 endorsed a recommendation taking $4.7 million from the University of Kansas Lawrence campus and redistributing it to KU Medical Center for each of the next two fiscal years. And in that message, we explained to you why we opposed that proposal.

Unfortunately, this past Wednesday, the Senate passed a mega budget bill that changed that proposed $4.7 million annual redistribution into an outright cut to the Lawrence campus, while leaving the Medical Center budget untouched. In addition to this cut, the bill included a proposal to dramatically reallocate state financial aid among students who attend public and private institutions so that the overwhelming majority of that aid goes to students at independent colleges – regardless of the fact that public universities overwhelmingly produce more graduates than independent schools.

Certainly, this is not good news for KU. But it’s important to understand that this bill still has a long way to go before becoming law. First of all, the budget bill doesn’t include a tax plan, and the bill’s K-12 education finance component may end up in court. Additionally, the Kansas House still hasn’t passed its own budget bill, which it may try to do next week, though that is appearing increasingly unlikely. Bottom line is, while the proposed cuts to KU-Lawrence and the reallocation of student financial aid are not good developments, we still have time – with your help – to work with lawmakers to get those provisions reversed before the 2015 session adjourns.

Next week will be lawmakers’ last week in Topeka before they return home for spring break. Next Friday, we will email you with links to chamber of commerce events and legislative coffees in your districts, which are terrific opportunities for you to visit with your elected officials while they are home on break. Additionally, we will provide you detailed fact sheets and talking points to help you have conversations with them about the proposed cuts to KU-Lawrence, the proposed reallocation of student financial aid, and other higher education issues.

In the meantime, if you have the chance to engage with lawmakers on behalf of KU, please do. Specifically, tell them to reverse the proposed cuts to KU-Lawrence and the poorly designed reallocation of financial aid away from public school students, and urge them to instead return to the Governor’s Budget Recommendation for flat, stable funding for higher education.

Thank you for all you do on behalf of KU.

Rock Chalk!

Kevin J. Corbett, c’88
President, KU Alumni Association