Getting ready for the 2015 Legislature
Dear Jayhawk for Higher Education,
The start of the academic year is a time of renewal. This year, as we welcome new students, faculty and staff to the University of Kansas, we’re renewing our efforts to inform lawmakers of the benefits KU provides the state. As a member of Jayhawks for Higher Education, you’re crucial to these efforts.
While the 2015 session is still four months away, we’re writing today to help you begin thinking about the session and to remind you that we’ll again be leading an active Jayhawks for Higher Education effort. This effort is designed to give you tools and information so you can share the KU story with lawmakers and citizens. This initiative will include:
- frequent email updates to keep you informed of issues that impact KU.
- “Hawk Points” university talking points to help you share key KU messages and engage lawmakers in accurate conversations about KU.
- Action Alerts that alert you to critical moments during the legislative session when your voice is especially needed.
- Reminders of legislative coffees and public forums in your community.
This strategy is a collaboration between the KU Office of Public Affairs and the KU Alumni Association. Most important, this strategy will tap the energy of JHE members like you. Remember, your voice matters to policymakers.
Looking ahead to the 2015 session
Last week, the Kansas Board of Regents approved a budget request that would maintain current levels of base funding to universities and include targeted enhancements sought by the state’s post-secondary schools. The budget request will now go to Governor Brownback’s office for consideration. The governor will submit a budget recommendation to the Legislature in January.
Included in the Regents budget request are our two top-priority KU projects – one for the Lawrence campus and one for the KU Medical Center.
- Drug and Vaccine Discovery Institute: KU seeks ongoing support to establish the Drug and Vaccine Discovery Institute, which would focus on the two themes essential for ensuring the future of health: the development of new drug treatments for human disease through chemical biology and disease prevention through vaccine development. In addition to improving human health, the drugs and vaccines produced by these groups will benefit the Kansas economy by fostering KU partnerships with pharmaceutical firms, encouraging companies to locate and invest in Kansas, and creating biotechnology startup companies.
- Merit-Based Salary Enhancement: KU seeks support for a 3-percent merit-based salary enhancement for faculty and staff at the KU Medical Center whose positions are funded through general-use, centrally controlled resources (rather than by restricted grants, philanthropic or clinical revenues). Many of these employees have not received annual merit raises in five of the past six fiscal years. Top faculty and staff must be attracted and retained, and a 3-percent merit-based raise would be a crucial tool to help us do that.
In addition to these two projects, additional enhancement requests for future consideration were also included. They are:
- Innovation Way Science Facilities: KU seeks ongoing state support for operating expenses of our new Innovation Way science facilities. Innovation Way will replace science facilities built to specifications that did not anticipate computers or the highly sophisticated lab machinery necessary to develop tomorrow’s vaccines, cure and prevent infectious diseases, or enable energy storage. New labs and active teaching spaces will prepare a much-needed workforce for Kansas biotech and provide basic courses for our Engineering and Pharmacy schools.
- Strengthening Community-Based Medical Education in Wichita: Kansas has a crucial shortage of doctors, and the situation is worsening. To address this urgent need for physicians, KU in 2011 expanded the School of Medicine-Wichita from a two-year program to a full four-year program — and did so without additional state support. State funding is now needed to secure the Wichita program and to expand class size to train more doctors for Kansas.
It may only be September, but January will be here before you know it. In the meantime, we encourage you to check in routinely with the Jayhawks for Higher Education site and the KU Office of Public Affairs’ state relations site. Also, 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