Gov. Mark Parkinson called on his fellow Wichita State University alumni today to support his call for sales and tobacco tax increases to preserve the university’s programs through the recession.
Parkinson said he is confident that the recession will end and when it does, Wichita in particular will be poised for a comeback because of pent-up demand for aircraft.
But he said he’ll need lobbying help in Topeka from Wichita State alumni to preserve what the university has built over the years.
The state is facing about a $400 shortfall; Parkinson has proposed a three-year, one percent sales tax, a 55-cent-a-pack tax increase on cigarettes and quadrupling the tax on other tobacco products.
The state has cut roughly $1 billion from what was about a $6 billion budget and any further cuts will do long-lasting damage to colleges and universities throughout the state, the governor said.
Compounding the problem for Wichita is that all the other state universities are the dominant political and economic interests in the relatively small cities where they’re based, so year after year, their legislators fight hard for everything they can get.
Because Wichita’s interests are so more diverse, WSU has not had the same level of focused support from the local legislative delegation, Parkinson said.