Kan. Gov. Sam Brownback tours state in appeal against higher education budget cuts

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Governor Sam Brownback will be in Kansas City, Kan., Thursday as part of a 12-stop tour across the state to halt cuts to higher education.

Brownback will meet with students, teachers and administrators at University of Kansas School of Medicine around 11:30 a.m. Thursday, before making his way to Kansas City Kansas Community College around 3 p.m.

Brownback is visiting colleges this week to argue a proposed 2-4% cut to higher education could mean more money coming out of the pockets of students and taxpayers.

Negotiators are trying to find ways to cut spending in the wake of income tax cuts Brownback signed into law last year.

Those tax breaks are supposed to begin in July.

At Kansas City Kansas Community College, Brian Bode, Vice President of Student Affairs, says those cuts could mean cutting back on investments that help put the school on the cutting edge of technology.

It could also keep KCKCC from sending students to competitions and training events that ready them for the real world.

The University of Kansas, K.U. School of Medicine and KCKCC, as well as several other local schools, have already raised tuition.

School leaders on those campuses warn students can't afford to take on any more burden.

"Kansas lawmakers want to bring more business to Kansas and these are the students that are going to get those jobs, pay taxes and make it work," Bode explained. "You have to pay for it upfront through education and I hope they (lawmakers) understand that."

KCKCC stands to lose about $430,000 of its $49 million budget if the proposed state budget cuts are passed.

The school increased tuition $6 per credit hour just this past semester, and Bode says students or taxpayers could be forced to make up the difference.

That's tough, he explains, when the average student is around age 30, and several are unemployed and hoping school will help them get back on their feet.

"$6 a credit hour doesn't sound like a lot,  but if you're taking 30-45 credit hours in a year it's a significant hit for someone who is struggling to make the first payment," he said with a sigh.

KCKCC sophomore Tyler Walker says his education has already put him more than a thousand dollars in debt.

"To cut funding towards schools and take away resources, I think it's ridiculous," he said. "It's a silly premise to take money from education. A lot of people will pay and it'll be the students like me and my peers in trouble."

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