Earlier this week, the Kansas Legislature convened its 2022 session. As lawmakers conclude their first full week of work, I’d like to provide you a brief update on the latest happenings in the Statehouse and share our legislative priorities for the session.
On Wednesday morning, Governor Laura Kelly released her budget recommendations for the upcoming fiscal year, which serve as a starting point for legislative debate in the months ahead.
I am happy to report that the Governor recommends additional funding for higher education that would help the University of Kansas fulfill its mission and drive economic growth in Kansas. We are fully supportive of her budget recommendations, and we will spend the coming months advocating for lawmakers to include these proposals in the final Fiscal Year 2023 budget.
Below is a summary of key budget recommendations related to KU.
- Governor Kelly proposes $45.7 million to restore higher education funding to FY 2021 levels and address inflationary costs in exchange for universities agreeing to freeze tuition. We agree with Governor Kelly that this proposal would benefit universities and the Kansas students and families we serve. You will recall that KU has held tuition flat for the past three years, and we welcome the opportunity to do it again if the Governor’s proposal is approved.
- The Governor has proposed $195 million in State funds to create a university economic development challenge grant. This grant would enable universities to match donor dollars with State funds to develop projects that have significant economic benefit to the state.
- The Governor proposes $25 million for deferred maintenance, $20 million for information technology enhancements, and $25 million for student financial assistance.
- The Governor recommends a 5 percent pay increase for State employees. In the past, due to universities' unique funding streams, this type of proposal has amounted to a lower percentage increase distributed through a merit pool. We will get clarification on this proposal in the weeks ahead.
Overall, this is the most supportive budget proposal higher education has seen from any governor in many years. We appreciate Governor Kelly’s commitment to higher education for the upcoming budget year.
Remember, 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 funding KU.
What you can do to help
In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the legislative process and KU’s priorities, visit the KU Alumni Association’s Jayhawks for Higher Education page and our Office of Public Affairs’ state relations page for updates, fact sheets, 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 our state and society.
Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas