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Hornet Statehouse Buzz Jan. 23, 2023

January 23, 2023—Weeks One and Two

Welcome back to another session with the Hornet Statehouse Buzz, the summary of the week of events at the Topeka capital. Each week in the session there will be a summary of the events pertaining to higher education, and Emporia State. Be on the watch for the updates on the Government Relations website.

This week was interrupted by a personal weekend away from Kansas. So here are the two-week highlights of the kickoff of this year’s session.

The biggest news of a slow kick off fortnight was that Governor Kelly had to postpone her State of the State address due to Covid. It was rescheduled for January 24. Then it turned out she didn’t have Covid. But her address was not changed.

No matter. Budget Director Adam Proffitt presented the Governor’s budget on Thursday, January 12 to a joint meeting of the House Appropriations and Senate Ways and Means committees. No real surprises in the budget: Governor Kelly asking for expanded Medicaid, paying off debt, and a tax cut including the elimination of the food sales tax. The debate between Proffitt and the committee was based more on philosophical differences than anything else.

For higher education, Governor Kelly proposed $107.9 million SGF (state general fund) in spending with the goal to continue to limit low-to-no tuition increases. KBOR had requested $253 million (a lot of it individual amounts of one-time funds from universities). Few thought that after last year’s munificent budget for higher ed that we would end up with that.

The highlights?

  • $20 million to expand financial aid for the six universities.
  • $21.8 million to mitigate the impact of inflation.
  • $10.6 million for university specific programs.
  • $8.5 million for implementation of the National Institute for Student Success Playbooks
  • $20 million for deferred maintenance with a 1:1-dollar match.
  • $12 million for IT and cybersecurity upgrades.
  • $10 million for demolition.

The best news? ESU is in the Governor’s budget! ESU is proposed to receive $510,000 for SMART Kansas 21 to recruit science and math teachers in the state and we also are proposed to receive $1.1 million for the cybersecurity center in the School of Business. This is the first time anyone can remember ESU being in a governor’s budget proposal for quite a long time! Now, to make sure we get it!

The Higher Ed Budget committee has a new chair and co-chair and I met with both of them to fill them in on the ESU story. Steven Howe (R-Salina) is the chair and Tory Marie Blew (R-Great Bend) is the co-chair. Most of the members of the committee are returning from last year and the continuity should be helpful in selling ESU to the legislature.

There is also some interesting news outside of the higher ed scene at the Capital. The Speaker of the House is ESU alum Dan Hawkins and the Minority leader is Vic Miller, also an ESU alum from Topeka. Stephanie Clayton (D-Overland Park) is still the House Minority Whip and a grad of ESU as well. Hornets are buzzing around the Statehouse!

Not much else related to higher ed has materialized yet. There are a few bills which could impact us and I will keep you posted on those as they move along. A slow start compared to last year’s whirlwind session.

That’s the buzz from the Statehouse!

Please contact me if I can be of any help.

Greg Schneider