This year’s session was a lengthy one with lawmakers needing an additional nine days to agree on a budget and tax rates.
After 99 days the session ended Sunday morning with the passage of a two-year budget that includes significant cuts for public higher education in Kansas
These cuts came despite our session long advocacy efforts on behalf of the governor’s proposal to hold higher education funding flat.
In total, the budget includes cuts to higher education in excess of $37 million over a two-year period.
Included within the cuts is a 1.5% across-the-board reduction for both Fiscal Year 2014 and Fiscal Year 2015, a reduction in State General Funds based on a “salary cap” provision and the continued self-funding of the classified employee longevity program.
Here is how the legislature’s action will affect Pittsburg State University during FY 2014.
- A 1.5% cut to base funding
- A reduction in SGF funding as a result of the “salary cap” provision
- Elimination of funding for the classified employee longevity program with the cost covered by the university
The end result is a total FY2014 cut to our base funding of more than $900,000 or 2.6% with an additional $650,000 cut in FY2015.
PSU’s base state funding has been cut by more than $5 million since 2008 and now sits at approximately the same level it did in 2004. These cuts have come at a time when the University has grown. Since 2004 our enrollment has grown by more than 11%. The end result is that we must do more with less to provide the same high level of education and career preparedness.
The targeted enhancement for our new polymer science program was funded with an additional allocation of $500,000 per year.
While we are thankful for the increased enhancement for the polymer chemistry program, we are very disappointed with the legislature’s decision to significantly cut base state support for higher education. As a result of their decision there will be incredible pressure on tuition rates which will inevitably hasten the shift in the cost of education on to students and families.
If policy makers are serious about making Kansas a business-friendly, pro-growth state, higher education must be a foundational investment. A well-educated, well-prepared workforce is essential for businesses to grow and compete in the global marketplace. Additionally, increasing the educational attainment of Kansans will enlarge the tax base by making them more employable and increasing their lifetime earning potential. Probably most troubling is the fact that these cuts to Kansas higher education come at a time when at least 32 other states are increasing their investment in higher education placing our state at a competitive disadvantage.