University Leaders Warn Of Impact Of Potential Budget Cuts

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - University officials told the Kansas Board of Regents proposed state budget cuts could have a devastating impact.

The Regents discussed the legislature's ongoing budget talks at their meeting Wednesday. The House proposed a four-percent budget cut for higher education, while the Senate said two percent.

KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little says cuts could reduce the numer of medical and nursing students admitted to KU programs and lead to closing their Salina medical school. She says cuts also threaten KU's efforts to earn a National Cancer Institute designation.

K-State President Kirk Schulz says cuts could impact teaching. He says most of the school's costs are in people so budget cuts would impact the ability to hire and retain quality people, which Schulz called important to moving the state forward.

House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stillwell, defended the proposed cuts.

“The House is committed to higher education and believes that it is a priority for the state," he said in a statement released Wednesday evening. "However, when cash balances at Regents institutions over the last decade have grown by more than $247 million, the House believes there is room for savings. The reductions made by the House appropriations committee were based on the resource reduction package submitted by the Board of Regents.”

The Governor proposed keeping higher education funding at current levels. State lawmakers return for their wrap-up session, where they'll settle the funding issue, in May.