BY ALICIA FEYERHERM
Kansas House District 111 candidate Ed Hammond held another campaign event at Defiance Brewery on Tuesday.
Hammond’s campaign has three main focuses: Medicaid expansion, K-12 education and funding for Fort Hays State University and Tuesday’s event focused specifically on funding for Fort Hays State University.
“The purpose of tonight is not only to share some information with you but to give you the ability to go out and share information with other people in the university so they can understand that we’re facing a critical time in the history of our institution right now,” Hammond said.
Hammond estimates that Fort Hays Faculty and significant others make up approximately 2000 votes, not including the thousands of on-campus students.
“If the university were ever to decide that it was important to have an advocate in Topeka, and they voted that way, we would have an advocate in Topeka,” Hammond said.
Hammond pointed out that before the early 2000s, all tuition was deposited directly to the state general fund and then allocated back to institutions using a formula based on enrollment.
Once universities received tuition ownership through the legislature in 2002, the formula disappeared. Instead, block grants were given. These grants were initially based on 2002 enrollment numbers and then increased each year depending on the appropriations of the Legislature and the Kansas Board of Regents’ approval.
While other universities have stayed relatively similar in size compared to 2002, Fort Hays experienced 19 consecutive years of growth. Hammond says Fort Hays’s funding is no longer proportional to enrollment.
According to Hammond, in 2002, enrollment was slightly over 6500 students. The fall of 2019 saw enrollment reach almost 16,000.
Hammond said that Fort Hays enrollment is almost the same as Wichita State University now. However, last year, Wichita State received $84 million in funding, whereas Fort Hays only received $39 million.
“In my opinion, we’re under budget 20 to 30 million dollars,” Hammond says.
Hammond said he is not advocating to take funding away from WSU, but rather ensure Fort Hays gets its fair share of resources.
Hammond said he never intended to run for office after retiring, but he felt like the 111th district needed more representation.
“You can elect an advocate,” Hammond said.