Archive for Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Kansas state senator cuts $2 million proposal for KU research

March 11, 2014

— A Senate budget subcommittee on Monday deleted $2 million for a proposed institute at Kansas University to develop new technologies and drugs in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies.

The deletion was proposed by state Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina, and was blasted by state Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka.

"This is the only project that is singled out for removal. I want to know why," Kelly said. "This looks like a personal vendetta," she said to Arpke, who has been a frequent critic of funding to KU.

Arpke denied it was. He said if KU's budget was based on declining student enrollment at the Lawrence campus over the past five years, it would have faced a $13 million cut.

Arpke also put the deleted $2 million toward a scholarship program for low-income students, with 75 percent of that going to independent and private colleges. The current breakdown of the program is 50 percent to public universities and 50 to independents and private colleges.

Gov. Sam Brownback had proposed setting aside $2 million in his budget for the Kansas Institute for Translational Chemical Biology.

As planned, the institute would support research projects that deal with a wide range of health issues, such as tuberculosis, cancer, addiction and depression. The $2 million would help core laboratories that do highly technical work as well as provide seed money for pilot projects.

The deletion, approved by Arpke and state Sen. Steve Abrams, R-Arkansas City, was made as part of the budgets of individual universities and the Kansas Board of Regents.

Referring to the KU cut, Kelly said, "This program will do exactly what we have been pounding the regents to do, working with the privater sector."

Tim Caboni, a spokesman for KU, said he hoped the funding would be restored when the recommendation goes to the full Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.

"We've had many productive conversations with the governor's office and Senate leadership about making investments to grow the Kansas economy. The proposed KU institute that the subcommittee cut today would enable KU to do exactly that," Caboni said.

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