Kansas Colleges Lose More Funding

The 2017 fiscal year is looking to be a difficult one, especially for those looking towards attaining a higher education, as Kansas faces a $53 million deficit in state revenue taxes. This has encouraged lawmakers to find money from other places to make up the deficit. Among other sources, money is going to be taken from the State’s post-secondary institutions, which looks like it will be receiving over $30.6 million less than last year.

Initially, Governor Sam Brownback informed the Kansas Board of Regents that there would be a $17 million cut in college funding. However, after a closed-door meeting with administration officials and university economists, the numbers were changed and it was decided that schools would receive a mere 4% allotment of funds.  

The funding cuts are striking higher education institutions heavily, with two-year colleges losing out on almost $5.5 million in funding and students in need of financial aid losing out on about $875,000. The six state universities are receiving different amounts of reductions in funding, with Kansas University’s funding being reduced by a staggering $7 million and Fort Hays State University being reduced by almost $1 million.

The Kansas Board of Regents are not taking these funding reductions lightly, and are remaining confident that there can be workarounds in coming years. “It is critical to the Board that we do everything we can to communicate the role of our higher education system in addressing workforce shortages Kansas will be facing if we do not increase the number of Kansans who hold some type of post-secondary credentials,” stated Zoe Newton, Chair of the Kansas Board of Regents. “We are requesting that the 2017 Legislature restore the $30.6 million which was cut from this current fiscal year, so funding amounts appropriated for the next two years reflect pre-allotment levels.”

The KBR outlined in their 10 year strategic plan for post-secondary education, named Foresight 2020, that their goal is to “increase the number of Kansas with an industry recognized degree or certificate to 60%.” With an increased number of Kansans that have obtained higher education degrees or certificates, there is a good chance that Kansas can come back from the deficit it faces.

There are many causes of the $53 million deficit that Kansas is facing, but Governor Brownback’s “trickle down economics”(which provides personal tax breaks across the board, completely disposing of the top tax bracket and erasing income tax bills for small business owners) has been the main focus of criticism from Kansas residents as well as government officials.

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