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Kansas Senator Says Bill Targets KU Budget

A Kansas Senate committee is considering a budget bill that would restore some funding to state universities that was cut last year. But the bill caused some heated words about whether lawmakers are targeting the University of Kansas.

The bill eliminates $2 million Gov. Sam Brownback had proposed for a program to help commercialize KU research. Only KU had a program proposal deleted from the governor's suggestions.

Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, says the committee targeted KU.

"The subcommittee's recommendation, if enacted, sends a clear message to others that the Legislature does not support its flagship university," said Kelly. "This lack of support is likely to result in premiere faculty taking their research dollars elsewhere."

Republican Sen. Ty Masterson, from Andover, says Kelly's statement is not a fair assessment.

Sen. Tom Arpke, a Salina Republican, chairs the subcommittee that built the budget. He says that he wasn't happy with the funding reports provided by KU, and says they showed unspent revenues that the university could use.

"So, essentially unaccounted for $185 million and I really expect comprehensive reports that cover all revenue and expenditures," says Arpke.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little says there's no requirement or expectation that they spend down their reserves to zero every year and it's a common practice for universities to have some reserves.

 Eds note: After reporting this story KU officials responded wishing to clarify that the Lawrence campus has $3.7 million in reserves but the KU Med Center has no reserve funds.

As the Kansas News Service managing editor, I help our statewide team of reporters find the important issues and breaking news that impact people statewide. We refine our daily stories to illustrate the issues and events that affect the health, well-being and economic stability of the people of Kansas. Email me at skoranda@kcur.org.
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