Archive for Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kansas: Legislators, education officials need ‘shared goals’

January 22, 2014

One of the House leaders who last year led the march to cut the higher education budget says efforts are now underway to bring legislators and higher education officials together.

"Shared goals is what we want to get to," Appropriations Committee Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said Tuesday.

He said he wanted to end "these lobbing of bombs back and forth."

Rhoades added that he felt many of the problems between the Legislature and Kansas Board of Regents were due to media reports about Republican leaders cutting approximately $34 million in state funds over two years from the state's six universities. The cuts to Kansas University totaled $13.5 million.

Following the budget cuts, the Kansas Board of Regents approved tuition increases that board members said were dictated, in part, by the budget cuts.

After that, board members and legislative leaders engaged in sharp comments back and forth.

Now, Rhoades said he and higher education officials are meeting privately to discuss issues.

He said the Legislature and Kansas Board of Regents need to work together. For example, he said of the regents' long-term strategic agenda called Foresight 2020, "The Legislature has never been involved in that conversation."

Apparently Rhoades has met with Regents President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Tompkins.

"Andy has had conversations about the board's goals and Foresight 2020 and if there are places or issues where we can have agreement with the Legislature," said regents spokeswoman Mary Jane Stankiewicz.

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