The big demand: Higher education demands a $ 161 million budget increase from lawmakers

TOPEKA – The board responsible for the oversight of the state’s public universities and colleges has adopted a budget request of $ 161.6 million to be submitted to Governor Laura Kelly ahead of the 2022 legislative session.

Members of the Kansas Board of Regents made a recommendation that would allocate $ 130.7 million to the state’s six major universities and Washburn University in Topeka. Community and technical colleges are reportedly online for $ 27.5 million in the fiscal year starting July 1.

More than three-quarters of the funding would go to the core operating budgets of the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, and Hays, Emporia, Pittsburg and Wichita State Universities. Board members agreed on Thursday to request an allocation of $ 26.1 million to reflect a higher education inflation rate of 1.9%, of $ 14.9 million to avoid increases tuition fees in the 2022-2023 academic year and reinstating the $ 4.7 million budget reduction in 2021.

“I believe inflation is real. I see it in our business, ”said Jon Rolph, member of the Board of Regents, president of Thrive Restaurant Group with over 100 restaurants in a dozen states.

Other big-ticket items on state university wishlists: $ 25 million for needs-based student financial aid; $ 25 million for a public-private capital partnership; $ 20 million for the modernization of information technology; and $ 10 million for economic development activities.

Technical and community colleges would receive $ 27.5 million, much of which would go towards increasing credit hours and campus proposals for one-time expenses.

The Board of Regents also requested $ 2.1 million for Washburn University, $ 1 million to meet high demand for the Kansas National Guard scholarship program and approximately $ 300,000 for the office of the Board of Regents.

Cheryl Harrison-Lee, Chairman of the Board of Regents, said aggregate demand was aimed at building the human talent pool that companies are looking for, helping graduates get good jobs and wages, and helping scale up. economy.

“The Regents’ budget request will enable our system to advance economic prosperity and increase access for students, especially those from traditionally underserved populations,” said Harrison-Lee of Overland Park.

Lawrence’s board member Wint Winter said state law mandates the board of regents to defend higher education. The proposal submitted to the governor is part of this framework, he said.

“As advocates, we have an obligation to say with as much force and persuasion as possible that this is what we believe is necessary for our institutions to fulfill their mandate of helping students reach their full potential,” said Winter.

The Board of Regents’ budget request could be compromised by the demands of federal COVID-19 relief programs that have provided billions of dollars to the state. Under disaster relief laws, the Kansas legislature could be forced to allocate $ 53 million per year to demonstrate “sustaining the effort” in education spending.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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