|Encouraging news for KU
Dear Jayhawk for Higher Education:
During the past several months, we have partnered with loyal Jayhawks like you to encourage lawmakers to support initiatives that will help the University of Kansas achieve its bold aspirations. Today, we’re pleased to report success in several key areas.
Last night, after a weekend of sometimes heated debate, the Legislature passed a bill designed to meet the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision regarding K-12 funding. That bill also contains some higher education provisions that we will summarize for you below. This legislation now goes to Governor Brownback, who is expected to sign it. Here’s an overview:
Legislation approved last night restores half of last year’s “salary cap” cuts for this budget year and all of those cuts in FY 2015, which combined means an additional $4.07 million for KU Medical Center and $163,703 for KU. The bill does not restore the 1.5 percent across-the-board cuts from 2013. We appreciate Governor Brownback making this a priority in his budget recommendations back in January.
The bill also replaces KUMC’s $24.4 million FICA refund with $25 million in State General Fund-backed bonding authority for a new Health Education Building. We had already identified $15 million in KU funds for the project, meaning we now have $40 million of the $75 million needed for the building. As we’ve said throughout the session, this building is a top priority for KU, as it will enable us to train more doctors for Kansas.
Additionally, we’re pleased that the bill includes $25 million in bonding authority for our proposed Earth, Energy, and Environment Center. The bonding enables us to begin construction in the next year or two.
Legislators did not include the requested $2 million for our proposed Kansas Institute for Translational Chemical Biology, which would help KU partner with pharmaceutical companies to create new therapies and grow the Kansas economy. We’re encouraged that funding for the institute was supported by the House earlier this year, and we will continue to work with legislators over the coming weeks on this proposal.
While this bill certainly include some successes for KU, remember that a lot can happen between now and the end of the session, which will be in late April or early May after legislators return from break. The Legislature has not yet passed the full budget, and Governor Brownback has the ability to veto portions of whatever comes to his desk.
With that in mind, we’re asking you to use the next three weeks to visit with legislators in their hometowns and continue advocating for KU. In particular, thank legislators for the support they’ve shown so far, and ask them to continue supporting the state’s flagship university when they return for the veto session.
Need contact info for your legislators? Visit our Jayhawks for Higher Education page and enter your address or zip code to instantly access contact information for legislators in your district.
Archived JHE messages and Hawk Points – talking points on specific KU topics – are available here.
Fact sheets, testimony, and information on KU’s budget is available at the KU Office of Public Affairs’ state relations page.
As always, thank you for your support of KU.
Kevin Corbett, c’88