Kansas Progress Institute

Ad Astra Per Aspera ~ To the Stars Through Difficulties

Double Standard in the Kansas Legislature

Posted on February 8, 2016

By David Burress

The legislature is rightfully angry at the University of Kansas for obligating a $327M bond for new buildings without consulting them. Odd, they are not quite as angry at Governor Brownback for obligating $20M to tear down the Docking Office building and build a new power plant, meanwhile privatizing quite a lot of government office space at some large but unknown future cost–also without consulting them. Or maybe it’s not so odd: statehouse movement-conservatives tend to love Brownback and hate KU.

Aside from the amounts of money, Brownback’s action seems even more egregious than KU’s. Brownback obligated general revenue funds, while KU implies it can make the payments mainly from grants without dipping into general revenues. (Actually, that appears unlikely, but at least there should be no increase in amounts of money needed from instructional funds.) Also many legislators had a direct interest in preserving the Docking building, which now seems impossible–while the legislature has no real interest in KU campus buildings. Also there were questions about the planned power plant. Also Brownback has been urging KU to find outside funding for any new buildings.

Some proposed punishments to KU are, predictably, off the wall. One idea is to prohibit KU from spending more from special revenues (e.g. conference charges) than it estimated a year earlier. That means for example that KU might not be authorized to pay expenses if they had too many conferences. No one seems to be proposing any punishments for Brownback.

What this all does show is a need to clarify authority for issuing bonds, authorizing construction, and making long term major lease commitments.

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