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President hosts budget forum

March 11, 2011 12:00AM

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President Scott discusses budget the with faculty and staff.

(View video of the forum)

Although the Kansas legislative session is far from over and key decisions have yet to be made on both the current and coming fiscal year budgets, PSU President Steve Scott held a campus budget forum Wednesday, saying it is important to keep faculty and staff informed at every step of the process.

The president was joined in the presentation by Provost Lynette Olson, Vice President for Administration and Campus Life John Patterson, and PSU's Legislative Liaison Victoria White.

The president's presentation, parts of which he has shared with various legislative sub-committees over the past several weeks, included some recent budget history. It showed the university's steady growth over time, the sharp cuts in state support the past two years and the ongoing shift in the cost of education from the state to students and families.

The president said the university supports the governor's recommendation for higher education, which calls for a flat budget. He noted that higher education is one of the very few areas of state government that the governor has not proposed cutting for FY 2012.

"We would be very, very pleased if it is flat," Scott said.

The president used graphs to illustrate how, as state support was reduced to 2006 levels, enrollment and credit hour production continued to rise. As a result, the cost per credit hour at PSU is now the second lowest in the Regents system. The only university lower than PSU, the president said, is Fort Hays State, which has about half its enrollment online.

"There is no doubt we are very, very efficient here," Scott said. "For the citizens of Kansas, Pittsburg State University continues to be a great value."

In his portion of the presentation, Patterson said action on the appropriations bill for FY 2012 is being held up while competing plans dealing with potential cuts for the remainder of FY 2011 make their way through the legislature. He said he believes higher education can make it through the process without significant additional cuts, if state revenues remain healthy this spring.

"What's really going to be important are the tax collections for March," Patterson said.

Patterson listed three things the university has concerns about. One is the possible elimination of state support for public radio. For KRPS, he said, that would mean a loss of $120,000. A second concern is the elimination of the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation and the assignment of its functions to the Department of Commerce. KTEC provides some funds for the Kansas Polymer Research Center. The third issue is the funding of the Classified Pay Plan. Patterson said that although neither the governor nor the House supported the plan, there seemed to be some support for it in the Senate.

The president said PSU officials continually make the case in Topeka for supporting the Classified Pay Play.

"Every time we go to Topeka, we talk about the needs of classified staff," he said.

Olson said that despite the budgetary issues of recent years, the university has continued to look ahead.

"We've kept going," she said. "We keep planning for the future. We've been very committed to enhancing our learning environments for students."

White told the crowd that there were a number of issues before the legislature, beside the budget, that could affect higher education. Those include the desire of some to repeal the sales tax increase enacted last year, the elimination of KTEC, in-state tuition for the children of undocumented immigrants, and expanding the conceal-carry law to include university campuses.

The forum was filmed by the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology and will be posted this week on the budget page for those unable to attend.

©2011 Pittsburg State University