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Kansas universities would receive bonuses for fostering startup companies under proposal by governor

  • Eagle Topeka bureau
  • Published Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at 3:04 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, at 6:41 p.m.

— Gov. Sam Brownback said he’s considering a program to pay universities and technical colleges a bonus for each startup company they help create.

He said a $2,000 to $5,000 payment to schools producing startups might “kick up an internal entrepreneurial-type of atmosphere.”

“But we haven’t figured out quite how to structure it,” he said.

Brownback floated his proposal, which he said is still in the idea phase, during a meeting Wednesday with his council of economic advisers.

The idea emerged as Graham Toft, president of the consultant group GrowthEconomists Inc., told the council that Kansas should rebrand itself by focusing on its high-ranking educated workforce, quality K-12 schools, robust roads and railways and its “roll up your sleeves” Midwest culture.

Toft liked Brownback’s idea to reward universities that produce startups, and he added that the state should also consider getting more federal grant money for small business innovation and research.

Wayne Angell, a former Bear Stearns economist and guest speaker at the meeting, suggested that Kansas increase tuition rates as a way to deal with budget pressures.

“If the Legislature needs some extra revenue, I think it would be a decided help to have an increase in tuition and fees to get a higher education,” he said. “If you’re going to do that, it does make sense to have more scholarship help because you don’t want to limit Kansans’ ability to improve their skills.”

In a brief interview later, Brownback said Angell’s suggestion “is not a likely scenario.”

“That’s his idea, not mine,” he said.

Kansas Board of Regents member Kenny Wilk said the state has increased tuition fairly significantly in recent years.

“I understand his perspective, but I’m not sure tuition for money for other services is a prudent path,” he said.

Angell also told Brownback and his council that Kansas is on the right path by proposing to maintain a temporary sales tax increase to help drive down income tax rates.

Reach Brent Wistrom at 785-296-3006 or bwistrom@wichitaeagle.com.

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