The Kansas Legislature convened last week for its 2021 session, making this a good time to update you on our efforts with lawmakers on behalf of higher education.
Last Wednesday, Governor Kelly released her budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year. As you know, the Governor’s annual budget recommendations typically serve as a starting point for legislative debate throughout the spring.
This year, the Governor recommends a 5.3 percent cut to KU’s base appropriation, which amounts to $13.6 million. This proposed reduction includes a $7.6 million cut for Lawrence and a $6 million cut for KU Medical Center. As a percentage, this would be the largest cut to KU since 2010. As a total dollar amount, this would be the largest cut to KU in history.
Additionally, the Governor proposes salary increases for other State agency employees, but there is no such direct appropriation for universities. Instead, she recommends $10.4 million for the Kansas Board of Regents to utilize at its discretion.
We are disappointed and concerned by the Governor’s proposed budget and its singling out of higher education. Due to the pandemic, KU already faces a projected Fiscal Year 2022 shortfall of $74.6 million that will require us to eliminate programs and departments, reduce services, and implement furloughs and layoffs on a large scale. A reduction in state funding would necessitate these measures be even more drastic, causing irreparable harm to KU and further diminishing our ability to serve Kansans.
The Governor’s budget proposal is just that – a proposal – and her recommendations may or may not end up in the Legislature’s final budget. We will continue to work with legislators to help them understand the importance of adequately funding KU at this crucial moment.
In the meantime, if you are interested in advocating for KU in your capacity as a private citizen, visit the KU Alumni Association’s Jayhawks for Higher Education page, as well as KU Public Affairs’ state relations page, for updates and opportunities to engage in the legislative process.
As always, the best thing you can do to encourage lawmakers to support KU is to continue fulfilling our university’s mission of education, service and research in a way that benefits society.
Douglas A. Girod