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Budget plan cuts $2M at K-State

By Dylan Lysen

K-State could receive about $2 million less in state funding for next year, under a budget proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Brownback released his proposal on Wednesday morning for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The state’s 2017 budget allocates about $97.35 million from the state’s general fund to K-State. Brownback’s budget calls for the university to receive about $95.4 million next year in state funding next year.

The plan is only a guideline expressing the governor’s wishes. Legislators will craft their own budget during the current session.

Breeze Richardson, Kansas Board of Regents director of communication, said Brownback’s proposal cuts K-State’s Global Food Systems grant from $5 million to $1 million, she said.

“It looks on paper to be a $2 million loss, but it’s more than that,” Richardson said. “That $4 million loss is the conversation that needs to be had. What is that money used for? What would be the consequences for such a cut? That’s what we’ll be looking to see over the next few months.”

Richardson said part of the grant cut is offset by a payroll quirk in the current year, which has 27 pay periods, compared to 26 in a normal year.

K-State Veterinary Med and K-State Extension are both slated for respective funding cuts of $200,000 and $500,000 as well. Vet Med would receive $14.37 million, down from $14.58 million. Brownback’s plan cut the Extension budget from $46.1 million to $45.6 million.

K-State spokeswoman Cindy Hollingsworth declined to comment on Brownback’s proposed budget and deferred questions to Richardson.

In his state of the state address Tuesday, Brownback said he is challenging state universities and colleges to establish a program that offers bachelor’s degrees for a total of $15,000.

K-State’s website states a that a typical student can expect to pay $8,411 per year, or $33,644 over four years, in tuition at its Manhattan campus. Brownback said the state would offer 50 scholarships to the first institution to create the program. He recommended $1 million of funding to support the challenge. “While the challenge is great, the potential achievement is greater,” Brownback said, according to the address transcript. “I trust that Kansas colleges and universities are fully capable to rise to this call.”

Brownback also proposed setting aside $3 million in 2018 for an education scholarship program — called TeachersKan — to encourage new teachers to take jobs in rural areas.

“We need the best and brightest students following in the footsteps of the teachers that inspired them, but college costs can make this difficult,” he said. “If you are a successful Kansas student and commit to teaching in a hard to fill discipline or under served community, we will help equip you to become a teacher of tomorrow.”

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