- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

VALLEY FALLS, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Board of Regents gave preliminary approval to a $38.6 million budget for specific projects at universities but rejected a suggestion to seek a $23.8 million funding increase to cover inflation.

The board said Thursday it will make final recommendations in September and forward those to Gov. Sam Brownback for consideration as he devises a budget to present to the state Legislature, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (https://bit.ly/1t2oXrq ).

The list given preliminary approval includes top priorities from each of the state’s post-secondary schools, such as $10 million to build a technical institute in Dodge City as part of a proposed merger with Fort Hays State University; $5 million for ongoing funding of a drug and discovery institute at the University of Kansas; and $5 million to renovate and expand Seaton Hall at Kansas State University.

The list also includes a $2.5 million increase in need-based student financial aid.

Regent Fred Logan said that in the past several years neither the Legislature nor Brownback has considered increasing in base funding for higher education but there has been interest in specific projects.

“We had great success last year by proposing targeted enhancements,” Logan said.

But Vice Chairman Shane Bangerter said not covering inflation amounts to a funding cut and will lead to increased tuition rates.

“If you get a decrease on one end, you have to increase on the other. There seems to be a direct correlation between those two numbers,” Bangerter said.

The inflation figure was based on the Higher Education Price Index, which covers the universities’ primary costs, such as salaries, contracted services and utilities.

Another list of other projects, totaling $57.8 million, for future consideration also will be sent to Brownback.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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