State Investment in Higher Education at Risk

At a glance …

  • The 2013 State Legislature cut Pittsburg State’s budget by more than $1.5 million over two years
  • Pittsburg State’s base funding has been cut by  more than $5 million since 2008
  • State investment in Pittsburg State is at approximately the same level as it was in 2004
  • Pittsburg State enrollment has grown by more than 11 percent since 2004
  • While the 2013 Kansas Legislature cut higher education funding, 37 other states increased higher education funding

Just as the future of K-12 funding is unknown, so too is the level of investment the state will make in public higher-education. Last year, lawmakers cut higher-education by more than $37 million over a two year period as a result of their push to lower income tax cuts. This cut includes a flat 1.5 percent decrease in funding and a so-called “salary cap” provision that added an additional 1.1 percent loss in state funding. For Pittsburg State this meant a cut of more than $900,000 in Fiscal Year 14 or 2.6 percent with an additional $650,000 set to be cut in Fiscal Year 15.

Pittsburg State was able to accommodate the state’s reduced investment by adjusting its operating budget for FY14, but these types of cuts place Pitt State’s ability to compete at risk. In fact, Pittsburg State’s base funding has been cut by more than $5 million since 2008 and now sits at approximately the same level it did in 2004. Much has changed over the past 10 years, including Pitt State’s enrollment, which has grown by more than 11 percent in the past decade.

Pittsburg State did receive a targeted enhancement for a new polymer science program with an additional allocation of $500,000 per year but the cut to base funding was extremely disappointing giving Kansas’ strong tradition of offering one of the strongest statewide systems of higher education in the nation.

Our great state’s reputation of being a source of outstanding academics is now at risk. In fact, Kansas was one of only five states in the nation to cut its investment in higher education last year. A well-educated, well-prepared workforce is essential for business to grow and compete in the global marketplace.

The governor has indicated he intends to push for at least a partial restoration of funding for higher-ed this year, but the future for this funding is anything but certain. Pittsburg State will continue to advocate on behalf of its students, faculty and staff by urging lawmakers to remove the “salary cap” provision passed during last year’s session and restore the state’s investment in higher education.

2 comments

  1. Ron.

    Funny that your article doesn’t mention associate professors earn 95K for often working 3 days a week 9 months a year.

    • Shawn Naccarato

      The average salary for an associate professor at PSU is actually $59K (substantially below the $95K you suggest). It is also important to note these salaries are set by the market and not by some other arbitrary decision. We are dedicated to providing the best educational experience possible to prepare our students and professors must be adequately compensated. While they may not be in the classroom 40 hours per week, any educator will attest to the fact that their work is far from limited to the time actually spent in class. These professors spend countless hours preparing, grading, advising, and working with students on projects outside of formal class time. Seems no one should begrudge these hardworking professionals (who’ve spent years earning degrees and developing their expertise) fair market based compensation. If we wish to remain competitive and produce the best educational value for our students, highly trained and capable faculty are essential.

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