The news that Kansas came up $54 million short of revenue projections in February was bad enough. But a few minutes after the Department of Revenue released the report, the news got worse.
In a statement posted to his official website, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said he was immediately cutting $17 million from the state Board of Regents budget, a 3 percent cut to the state's six biggest institutions of higher learning.
The Regents reacted by calling on lawmakers and the governor to shore up education funding. "Stable state support is critical to proper planning and to provide an affordable and accessible education that the students of Kansas expect and deserve," Regents Chairman Shane Bangerter said in a statement. "I encourage the Governor and the Legislature to find a way to ensure stable and reliable funding to our state universities so that tuition can be kept low and our students can succeed.”
Whatever happens, Brownback says he will not consider raising taxes. “In balancing the budget, I will not support or call for a tax increase on small business in Kansas. My focus is on managing spending, not on raising taxes," he said in a statement.
An across-the-board three percent cut would mean a loss of $4 million at the University of Kansas and $3.2 million at KU Medical Center. However, the Regents made clear that it will consider targeting cuts and will make its decision where to trim later this week.
Kansas State University says it stands to lose $4.9 million if across-the-board cuts are made. "This will be in addition to the 2 percent budget reduction previously announced by the university," K-State said in an announcement to staff.
The Regents might be feeling a bit picked on. Last July they came up with $1.9 million in savings after Brownback signed a budget that raised the sales tax but still left a $50 million hole. The governor made no other cuts at the time.
The Regents two years ago also agreed to a 3.6 percent cap on tuition.