Category: kansas legislature

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.

Pittsburg State makes case for Kansas’ first Career Technical Education Development Program

At a glance …

  • Career & Technical Education Teacher Development & Innovation Center at Pittsburg State
  • CTE-TDI will train next generation of technical education teachers
  • CTE-TDI will allow state to take full advantage of its $20 million investment in Career & Technical Education Act
  • Pitt State’s CTE-TDI will improve state’s workforce & help bolster Kansas’ economy

 

Governor Brownback and the 2013 legislature passed a $20 million state program known as the Career and Technology Act to help students pay for technical training and become “career ready” graduates. This program is already encouraging students to return to the classroom and laboratory to learn new skills that will allow them to earn higher wages and rebuild the state’s economy.

The question is … who will teach them?

This type of instructor must possess the teaching skills of an experienced faculty member and the technical skills of an industry professional.

It can be difficult and expensive to try to recruit these instructors to our state and the competition for these individuals is fierce.

Thankfully, Pittsburg State University is in the unique position of having qualified faculty, state-of-the-art equipment, and a world-class facility to train the next generation of career and technical education instructors.

Pittsburg State is proposing the creation of a Career & Technical Education Teacher Development & Innovation Center (CTE-TDI) within the Kansas Technology Center. This will be a one-stop training facility for instructors throughout the state and help ensure that students are able to take full advantage of last year’s Career and Technology Act.

We see this as a natural extension of last year’s technical education effort by lawmakers and are making this one of our top priorities for this session. We invite you to learn more this initiative here (link to pdf) and speak to your local lawmaker about the positive difference Pittsburg State in the state’s level of technical education.

The Impact of Recent Budget Cuts on PSU

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.

House and Senate Budget Cuts Threaten Kansas Higher Education, PSU, and Economic Health of the State

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

Room: 111-N
Phone: 785-296-7682
Email: marc.rhoades@house.ks.gov

Rep. Gene Suellentrop, Vice Chairman, House Appropriations Committee

Room: 186-N
Phone: 785-296-7681
Email: gene.suellentrop@house.ks.gov

Rep. Jerry Henry, Ranking Minority Member, House Appropriations Committee

Room: 47S
Phone: 785-296-7688
Email: jerry.henry@house.ks.gov

Sen. Ty Masterson, Chairman, Senate Ways and Means Committee

Room: 545-S
Phone: 785-296-7388
Email: Ty.Masterson@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Jim Denning, Vice Chairman, Senate Ways and Means Committee

Room: 541-E
Phone: 785-296-7394
Email: Jim.Denning@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Laura Kelly, Ranking Minority Member, Senate Ways and Means Committee

Room: 125-E
Phone: 785-296-7365
Email: Laura.Kelly@senate.ks.gov

“Laboratory of Democracy” – Kansas Public Policy Changes Prompt National Media Attention

In 1932 Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis suggested, in the federal system, states could serve as laboratories of democracy and “ try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” This notion has been popularized over the intervening 80 years as a metaphor for federalism and the role of states in “experimenting” with public policy which may then find broader application throughout the rest of the country. Over the past few weeks the national media spotlight has turned to Kansas as one such “laboratory of democracy” with particular focus on Gov. Brownbacks’s proposed “glide path” to zero state income taxes.

This morning NPR’s Morning Edition spend some time on the Governor’s tax policy proposal, asking “Will it Work?”  The NPR piece follows on the heals of an “above the fold” front page story in the Wall Street Journal – “Party Eyes ‘ Red-State Model’ to Drive Republican Revival” – focused on the role state public policy proposals in Kansas could play in the future of the GOP nationally.  While debate and discussion continues within the state, it is interesting to see how changes within our state are being viewed by the rest of the nation.

State of the State Address

Governor Sam Brownback will deliver the 2013 SOTS address to a joint session of the Kansa legislature this evening at 6:30 pm. The Governor is expected to outline his agenda for the 2013 legislative session which will likely focus on his plan to balance the projected $267 million shortfall. The Governor has previously indicated his openness to an extension of the one cent statewide sales tax passed in 2010. A portion (.4 cents), dedicated to KDOT, will remain on the books without legislative action but the remaining 6 tenths of a cent is scheduled to expire on July 1st. Extension of the expiring .6 cents could mean as much as $250 million to the state budget but extension of the sales tax may be politically difficult with both Democrats and some Republicans in opposition.

The governor will also likely respond to the recent court of appeals decision ruling the current K-12 school funding to be unconstitutionally inadequate. Yesterday GOP leaders in both the House and the Senate voiced their opposition to the ruling. Implementation of the court’s order to fund base aid per pupil at $4,492 would result in a tax increase of nearly $600 million. The decision will be appealed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt but in the meantime will likely cast a shadow over any discussion of K-12 funding during the 2013 legislative session.

Tune into watch the Governors SOTS address at 6:30 pm or you can listen on your local Kansas public broadcasting radio station. In the Pittsburg area that is KRPS 91.3.