Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget doesn’t call for cuts for higher education and that’s good news, according to PSU President Steve Scott. Scott spoke to faculty and staff at a forum on the budget and legislative issues Friday.
The budget forums have become a tradition for Scott, who began them as a way to keep the campus informed and engaged during the legislative season.
“Getting your feedback is extremely important and that’s why we’re doing this,” Scott told those gathered. He promised additional meetings for updates as the session progresses.
Shawn Naccarato, director of government and community relations, opened the meeting with an overview of budgetary and legislative issues facing the Kansas Legislature.
The biggest issue, Naccarato said, was finding a way to close an estimated $267 million shortfall while simultaneously reducing income taxes.
In light of the focus on driving income tax rates down, the governor’s plan to keep higher education funding flat was good news, both Scott and Naccarato said.
“At one time, the state budget director talked about cuts of 8 percent or more across the board,” Scott said.
In a recent meeting with the governor, Scott said, he advocated for the university.
“The message I carried to the governor was that Pittsburg State University is on a great path,” Scott said. “We don’t want to go back.”
Scott noted that the governor recommended just three targeted enhancements for higher education and one of those was the new Polymer Chemistry Program. The others that the governor supported were the KSU School of Architecture and the KUMC Health Education Building.
In addition to tax and budget issues, legislators will likely face some other questions, Naccarato said, including the judicial selection process and K-12 funding. In Topeka, the university will support the governor’s budget and his recommendation for PSU and higher education. It will oppose expanding concealed carry gun laws to campuses and will support the current pro-access policy on undocumented students. The university will also support the classified employees’ position paper.
Scott urged the faculty and staff to share their views with elected officials and encouraged them to be informed advocates for PSU and for higher education.
“You are all taxpayers,” he said. “You are voters. I hope you will participate in this advocacy.”
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