On Thursday, PSU President Steve Scott issued a message to the campus community about budget cuts proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback in response to the most recent consensus revenue estimates. In a message to faculty and staff, Scott wrote,
“On Wednesday, the Kansas’ Consensus Revenue Estimating Group released its report for the remainder of FY16 and FY17. In what has become an all-too-familiar pattern, the group lowered its estimates by a combined $290 million.
At the same time, state budget director Shawn Sullivan announced three options the administration believes the legislature should consider in response to the nearly $300 million shortfall. Each of these options includes a 3 percent cut in funding for Pittsburg State University and a delay in the planned expansion of Highway 69.
The continuing cuts are placing our university and our community in an untenable position. Pittsburg State’s base funding has already retreated to levels we haven’t seen in more than a decade, and the delay of the Highway 69 project is a significant loss to our region. Its expansion over the past decade has contributed to our university’s growth, and the planned expansion is essential for the safety of many of our students, parents and alumni from the Kansas City region.
As a Kansan, and as the leader of Pittsburg State University, I am deeply troubled and concerned about the state’s lack of stability and predictability in its finances. It is making it nearly impossible to manage the budget of the university. Clearly, this environment threatens to undermine the positive momentum that is so evident on the campus and in the broader Pittsburg community.
In the coming days, we will work with our local legislators to express both our frustration and opposition to the cuts outlined by the state’s budget director. We will call on them to seek other solutions that will preserve the university’s funding and ensure a strong future for Pittsburg State. I’m optimistic they will be receptive to our pleas.
Lawmakers will return to Topeka next Wednesday to consider all options for closing the state’s deficit. In addition to local legislators, we will actively work with state legislative leaders to oppose these cuts.
The next few weeks are vitally important to the future of our university and our region. I encourage you to stay informed about the work of the legislature and, when appropriate, to reach out to your local lawmakers to let them hear your voice.
We have scheduled a Legislative Town Hall at 3 p.m. on Monday, April 25, in room 102 of Yates Hall. Shawn Naccarato, our director of government and community relations, will join me for an update on the state budget and other legislative matters. We will livestream this event on pittstate.tv for those unable to attend.
I know you have many questions and concerns about our state’s financial issues, and how they will impact Pittsburg State. At this point, it’s too early to know for certain. Rest assured, we will continue to advocate on behalf of our university and our focus remains on the success of our students.”