In his FY 2014-15 budget, Governor Brownback proposed stable funding for the University of Kansas, as well as support to begin the Health Education Initiative to train badly-needed doctors and health professionals.
The Kansas Legislature, however, has proposed cutting funding for the university, which in constant dollars has already seen its state funding fall from $371.3 million in FY 1999 to $246.9 million this year.
Contrary to the Governor’s recommendation, both the Kansas Senate and Kansas House have proposed cuts to higher education. The largest of these was proposed by the House, which through a 4 percent across-the-board cut and other significant reductions, would total $20.3 million. More than $11 million of that would be at the KU Medical Center, and add up to cuts exceeding 10 percent.
The results of those cuts would be severe, and would require a series of unfortunate but necessary cutbacks, including:
- Reducing by 36 the number of medical students we admit each year. Three-quarters of the reduction would be in Wichita, where we would be forced to return to only educating third- and fourth-year students. The School of Medicine-Salina would close.
- Reducing by 50 the number of nursing students we admit and by 30 the number of available medical resident positions, with the latter reduction divided equally between Kansas City and Wichita. This would have a direct effect on patient care.
- Significant risk of non-renewal of our hard-won National Cancer Institute designation. Renewal is already a high bar and will be even more difficult to achieve if we’re unable to make infrastructure investments and recruit and retain talented cancer researchers.
- Elimination of at least 38 faculty positions on the Lawrence Campus alone, which will have a negative effect on our ability to educate students, contribute to the vitality and prosperity of Kansas and achieve our shared goal of raising the university’s stature. The inability to replace departed faculty harms teaching and research, while not being able to retain faculty would turn KU into a “farm team” for universities in other states.
- A reversal of KU’s efforts raise its quality, rankings and stature of in relation to Association of American Universities peers such as the universities of Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Virginia. These cuts would jeopardize KU’s continued membership in AAU, the loss of which would make it even more difficult to recruit and retain the professors and researchers we need to educate leaders, attract companies and grow the Kansas economy.
To support Kansas students, businesses and communities, legislators should follow the higher education budget proposed by Governor Brownback, which enables the University of Kansas to contribute to the well-being and prosperity of the state.