Last week both the House and Senate passed budget bills that include cuts to higher education. The House budget bill (Sub HB2231), which passed out of the chamber on a vote of 68-55, reduces funding to higher education by more than $50 million in FY14. In addition to a 4% across the board cut to all institutions the House budget bill includes universities in “global” state agency cuts, which would total more than $20 million. While Regent institutions were exempted via floor amendment from the salary and wage cap provision an $18.1 million salary adjustment remained in the bill. The total revenue reductions to PSU in the House bill would be as much as $2.8 million or more than 8%.
The Senate budget bill (S Sub for HB2143) passed on a 24-16 vote. The Senate bill incudes a 2% across the board cut to higher education ($15.2 million). The Senate bill does not include any of the “global” state agency cuts included in the House budget bill. The total reduction for PSU in the Senate bill is $700,000.
Over the past five years, higher education funding has been reduced by more than 15% while statewide enrollments have grown by more than 11% over the same period. Recognizing the role of higher education in the economic health and success of the state, Governor Brownback recommended level funding for all institutions along with targeted enhancements such as PSU’s new polymer chemistry degree program. Higher education is essential to Governor Brownback’s Road Map for Kansas and to moving the Kansas economy forward. PSU and KBOR continue to support the Governor’s budget recommendation of no cuts for higher education. Cuts, such as those included in both House and Senate budget bills, threaten the growth and stability of higher education in the state and would further shift the cost of education onto students and their families.
Conference committee negotiations between the House and Senate began this morning. Conferees are as follows:
Rep. Marc Rhoades, Chairman, House Appropriations Committee
Rep. Gene Suellentrop, Vice Chairman, House Appropriations Committee
Rep. Jerry Henry, Ranking Minority Member, House Appropriations Committee
Sen. Ty Masterson, Chairman, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Sen. Jim Denning, Vice Chairman, Senate Ways and Means Committee
Sen. Laura Kelly, Ranking Minority Member, Senate Ways and Means Committee