The president of Kansas State University says the proposed state budget from Gov. Laura Kelly would feature the “most significant budget reduction since 2009” for the university.

K-State president Richard Myers wrote in a letter to the university community Tuesday that K-State would see a proposed cut of 5.5% in state funding under Kelly’s budget.

“We continue to work with the governor and the legislature to provide necessary funding to fulfill our land-grant mission,” Myers wrote. “As we know, there may be many proposed adjustments to this budget, and the situation can change quickly.”

Initial news reports indicated that the cut in state general fund support for K-State was 0.27%, but university officials are still evaluating the bottom line.

KSU chief government relations officer Sue Peterson said the budget is being analyzed by Ethan Erickson, K-State’s chief financial officer and director of budget and planning, to determine how the university might handle the shift in funding. She said Myers will testify on behalf of the university in front of state legislative committees in February, and lawmakers will send instructions on which points they would like highlighted in Myers’ presentation.

“There’s a lot of variables between now and then,” Peterson said. “I do think the president’s message was good in terms of continuing to work with legislators, and monitor budget steps as we go forward.”

Kelly released her proposal last week, and educational institutions across the state have been reviewing the details. On Thursday Board of Regents president/CEO Blake Flanders will testify before the state Senate Education Committee. The title of his testimony is “Higher Education by the Numbers.”

Board of Regents communications director Matt Keith said based on their analysis, the governor’s proposed budget would include a funding cut of approximately $27 million to Regents universities for fiscal year 2022. For K-State, the reduction is closer to $9.5 million, and includes the Veterinary Medical Center and Extension Systems and Agricultural Research Programs.

“One thing to keep in mind regarding any individual institution’s possible funding reduction at this point, is that the governor also proposed allocating $10.4 million in discretionary funding to the Board of Regents,” Keith said. “If the Legislature decides to include that in the final budget, it could impact how much of a funding reduction each institution sees.”

In the letter, Myers encouraged people to reach out to their local state representative to advocate for higher education.

“The long-term disinvestment in higher education in Kansas does not bode well for the future of the state, nor the health of its universities,” Myers wrote. “The return on investment for higher education has been demonstrated time and again.”

The Office of Government Relations at K-State will provide weekly updates through the remainder of the legislative session, to discuss the previous week and upcoming hearings. Those are available on Zoom, and a K-State digital ID and password are required to access the meetings.