Republicans vote to reject federal stimulus money
This morning, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee voted to reject federal stimulus money that would have been tremendously beneficial to Kansas colleges and universities. Had the committee accepted the stimulus money for higher education, more Kansans would have been able to afford college with increases in the higher education tax credit; an increase in the maximum Pell Grant by $500, for a maximum of $5,350 in 2009 and $5,550 in 2010; and the addition of $200 million to the vital College Work-Study program. Additionally, the money would have provided the funding of several deferred maintenance projects at crumbling universities across the state. "Kansas is facing a $1 billion budget gap for 2010," said Rep. Bill Feuerborn, Garnett. "The Legislature cannot afford to turn down help from the federal government. We made the decision to utilize stimulus money for K-12 education and transportation projects, yet we decide to turn down this help for our universities. It makes no sense."
"Rejecting these funds was a bad policy decision that will most adversely affect the very Kansans this money was allocated to help: folks out of work, students struggling to pay for college and the business community relying on an educated workforce to help strengthen our economy," said House Democratic Leader Paul Davis, Lawrence. "After spending the first six weeks of the session just trying to figure out how to stay afloat until July, we are not in a position to turn down federal dollars."
In a recent study, the Docking Institute of Public Affairs noted that every $1 million spent on university deferred maintenance projects, $2.2 million is generated in increased economic output of goods and services, $644,600 in increased state earnings and 19 new jobs created in Kansas.
If the entire $439.7 million in "shovel-ready" campus infrastructure projects were addressed, they would produce an immediate and profound statewide impact, increasing the economic output of goods and services by $967.3 million, increasing earnings by $283.4 million and creating 8,254 new jobs statewide.
"Year after year, deferred maintenance projects get pushed aside for more urgent priorities," said Rep. Sydney Carlin, Manhattan. "Now, we finally have the funds to take care of our state universities yet we ignore them again. It will be several years before the economy recovers enough to fund deferred maintenance projects on our own, which is why it is absurd to reject this money now."
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