During the past several months, we have been working closely with policymakers to secure support for initiatives that will help the University of Kansas achieve its bold aspirations. I’m pleased to report success in several key areas.
Legislation approved last night restores half of last year’s “salary cap” cuts for this budget year and all of those cuts in FY 2015, which combined means an additional $4.07 million for KU Medical Center and $163,703 for KU. The bill does not restore the 1.5 percent across-the-board cuts from 2013. We appreciate Governor Brownback making this a priority in his budget recommendations back in January.
The bill also replaces KUMC’s $24.4 million FICA refund with $25 million in State General Fund-backed bonding authority for a new Health Education Building. We had already identified $15 million in KU funds for the project, meaning we now have $40 million of the $75 million needed for the building.
Additionally, we are pleased that the bill includes $25 million in bonding authority for our proposed Earth, Energy, and Environment Center, which would allow us to begin construction in the next year or two.
These items were included in the bill dealing with K-12 funding. While that bill did contain items related to higher education, its provision eliminating due process for K-12 teachers does not apply to university faculty. This legislation now goes to Governor Brownback, who is expected to sign it.
Legislators did not include the requested $2 million for our proposed Kansas Institute for Translational Chemical Biology, which would help KU partner with pharmaceutical companies to create new therapies and grow the Kansas economy. We’re encouraged that funding for the institute was supported by the House earlier in the session, and we will continue to work with legislators over the coming weeks on this important proposal.
Certainly, a lot can happen between now and the end of the session, which will be in late April or early May after legislators return from break. The Legislature has not yet passed the full budget, and Governor Brownback has the ability to veto portions of whatever comes to his desk. But as things stand today, we are in good shape. In the meantime, you can read weekly updates from the Statehouse, as well as receive information on advocating for KU by joining Jayhawks for Higher Education.
Remember, the best way to advocate for KU is by continuing to pursue our bold aspirations. Fulfilling our mission of educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world will help demonstrate to legislators the benefits that come to a state that supports its flagship university.