Kansas Lawmakers Reach Deal to Avoid Cuts, Freeze Tuition

by | April 2, 2015

By Dion Lefler

Senate and House budget negotiators on Wednesday reached accord to avoid multi-million-dollar cuts to the University of Kansas and Kansas State University, and to freeze tuition at all six state regents universities for the next two years.

The lawmakers also agreed on a compromise position that would shift individual student aid to private colleges and universities, but not by as much as the Senate originally planned.

The agreement came as welcome news to members of the KU band who, coincidentally, were playing a concert in the Capitol Rotunda while the budget meeting was going on.

"Good, good for Kansas!" said Allison Cockshaw, a graduate student and teaching assistant from Boston, when she learned of the tuition freeze.

"I think that's great," added Michael Raehpour, a sophomore trumpeter from Andover. "Students shouldn't have to worry about their tuition going up."

The agreement would avoid cutting operating funds by about $9.2 million from KU, and $4.2 million at K-State over the next two years, according to Breeze Richardson of the Kansas Board of Regents.

It also restores proposed cuts of:

Almost $1 million for K-State Cooperative Extension and agricultural research.

$146,270 for the K-State Veterinary Medical Center.

$16,488 for the KU Medical Center.

$7,900 for master's level nursing education and a wetlands education center at Fort Hays State University.

The agreement also reaches a compromise on the split of almost $16 million in need-based financial aid for college students.

At present, that money goes about 50-50 to students at public and private colleges and universities.

The Senate initially voted to give about 84 percent of the money to aid students at the private institutions.

Wednesday's agreement sets the percentage at 60 percent for the private schools and 40 percent for the public institutions.

Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover and the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said he doesn't expect the overall budget to come to a vote in either chamber before the veto session that begins April 29. Lawmakers will adjourn the regular session late this week.

(c)2015 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)