Gov. Sam Brownback plans to begin a round of university visits – starting with Wichita State University on April 22 – to talk about protecting higher education from deep budget cuts proposed by the House and Senate.
Brownback had proposed flat funding for post-secondary schools, and he has advocated for increased use of career and technical education programs.
But House and Senate budget negotiators are trying to find ways to cut spending to accommodate the income tax cuts Brownback signed into law last year.
The Republican-controlled House has proposed a 4 percent cut, or roughly $30 million, for state schools. The Republican-controlled Senate backed a 2 percent cut. Negotiators nearly struck a deal to avoid cuts by taking money from the state’s highway fund, but the deal collapsed and lawmakers went home for a month-long recess.
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“There are core responsibilities that we must protect – higher education is one of them,” Brownback said in a prepared statement.
House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, said a key component of Brownback’s budget and tax plans – maintaining a six-tenths-of-a-cent sales tax that’s due to expire this summer – is a stall tactic that isn’t intended to pay for higher education.
“It is paying for massive tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations," he said in a prepared response.
After a stop at WSU and Butler Community College on April 22, Brownback plans to visit Washburn University on April 23, Pittsburg State University on April 24, University of Kansas School of Medicine on April 25, Emporia State University on April 26 and Kansas State University on May 6.
Details on the visits aren’t yet available.