Sub. for H.B. 2793, as amended, would implement the Kansas Higher Education Governance and Coordination Act. The purpose of the Act would be to coordinate public postsecondary education in Kansas and to provide the structure and funding necessary for the state's public postsecondary institutions to achieve excellence. Sub. for H.B. 2793 would become effective January 1, 1999, if H.C.R. 5049 is approved by the voters at the November 3, 1998, general election. The public postsecondary institutions affected by the bill are the Regents institutions, Washburn University, community colleges, technical colleges, and area vocational schools. The bill would also create two new student financial assistance programs.
State Council on Higher Education Created. Sections 3 through 8 concern the Kansas Council on Higher Education, which would consist of 11 members, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Members would serve staggered six-year terms, subject to a two-term limit. Two members would be appointed from each congressional district, with the remainder at large. No more than six members could be from the same political party. Initial appointments to the Council would consist of five members appointed by the Governor from nominees submitted by the State Board of Regents; two members appointed from nominees submitted by the State Board of Education; two members appointed from nominees submitted by the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees; one member appointed from nominees submitted by the Kansas Association of Area Vo-Tech Schools; and one member appointed from nominees submitted by the Board of Regents of Washburn University. Members to the initial Council would be appointed by February 1, 1999. (Input from the above groups would be for purposes of appointing the initial Council only.) Terms of initial Council members would vary in duration in order to establish a staggered basis for successive terms of members, and would not count toward the two-term limit.
Functions and Duties of the Council. The Council would be authorized to appoint a chief executive officer and would oversee an agency consisting of two divisions: the Division of Governance and the Division of Coordination. As a governing entity for the existing Regents universities and Washburn University, which would become a state institution, the Council would select institutional chief executive officers, establish personnel policies, set fees and tuition, and approve institutional missions.
As a coordinating entity for all public postsecondary institutions, the Council would: develop comprehensive long-range plans; determine institutional roles and review institutional missions; require the development of institutional master plans; develop measurable performance indicators; review and approve course offerings, course locations, programs, and degrees; conduct ongoing program review; encourage and oversee cooperative postsecondary programs among institutions; administer statewide student financial assistance programs; develop and implement long-range plans for the use of distance learning technologies; and collect and maintain a uniform postsecondary education database.
As part of its coordination function, the Council would recommend funding levels for all postsecondary institutions to the Governor and the Legislature. For the governed institutions, the Council would approve institutional budget requests for submission to the Governor and Legislature.
Liaison, Advisory, and Oversight Entities Created. Sections 9 through 11 create the Educational Coordinating Commission and the Joint Committee on Postsecondary Education and authorize the creation of advisory committees to the Council.
The Educational Coordinating Commission would serve as a liaison between the Council and the State Board of Education to ensure a seamless system of education. The Commission would be composed of three members of the State Board of Education, selected by the Board, and three members of the Council on Higher Education, selected by the Council. The Commission members would serve two-year terms and annually would select the Chair of the Commission and establish their own rules of operations and procedure.
The Joint Committee on Postsecondary Education would provide legislative oversight of postsecondary education. The Committee would consist of 14 legislators appointed as follows: three members of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate and two members appointed by the Senate Minority Leader and five members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House and four members appointed by the House Minority Leader. The Committee would be authorized to meet anywhere in the state on the call of the chair, and would be vested with subpoena powers over the Council, any institution governed or coordinated by the Council, the State Department of Education, and the Educational Coordinating Commission. The Committee is not to exercise its subpoena powers in abrogation of academic freedom. Among its duties, the Committee would assist in developing and monitoring performance measures to ensure the fiscal and academic integrity of the postsecondary education system. The Committee also would receive reports from the Council, the Educational Coordinating Commission, and committees that are advisory to the Council. The Committee would be charged with submitting a report to the 2000 Legislature on the feasibility of a virtual campus to provide educational access to programs offered by public postsecondary institutions via technology.
The Council would be directed to appoint advisory committees as necessary to assist it in the performance of its duties.
Board of Regents Abolished and Supervision of Community Colleges, Technical Colleges, and Area Vocational Schools Transferred. Sections 12 through 21 concern abolition of the Board of Regents, and the transfer of duties from the State Board of Education to the Council. The Board of Regents would cease operations June 30, 2000. In addition, supervision of community colleges, technical colleges, and area vocational schools would be transferred from the State Board of Education to the Council on July 1, 2000. Governance of these institutions by local boards would not be affected by the transfer. Appointment of the initial Council on February 1, 1999, prior to the Council assuming its duties on July 1, 2000, will create a transition period during which the Board of Regents and the State Board of Education would terminate their respective duties with regard to the postsecondary institutions under their governance or supervision.
Provision is made for the transfer of property, records, and funding that pertain to the duties being transferred from the Board of Regents and State Board of Education to the Council. Employees of the Board of Regents and the State Board of Education engaged in the performance of duties being transferred to the Council would be employed by the Council at the Council's discretion.
Community College Changes Made. Sections 22 through 40 pertain to community colleges and contain several major policy changes. They include:
Limits Set on Community College Mill Levies. Community college mill levies for operating expenses would be capped at 20 mills, with the exception of a community college that consolidates with another community college. In the case of consolidated community colleges, the levy for operating expenses would be capped at 10 mills. However, these limits could be exceeded if the community college board of trustees voted to increase the levy in order to generate enough revenues to fund up to a 2.5 percent increase in the amount of revenue received from the levy in the prior year. In the case of a community college with a levy in excess of 20 mills, or a consolidated community college with a levy in excess of 10 mills, if an increase in the assessed valuation generates more than a 2.5 percent increase in the amount of revenue received from the levy in the prior year, the operating budget mill rate would be reduced by the millage equivalency of the revenues that would be generated in excess of 2.5 percent. In the case of a community college at or below the 20-mill limit, or the 10-mill limit in the case of a consolidated community college, there would be no limit on the use of additional revenue generated by an increase in assessed valuation.
State Aid Increases in FY 2000 Earmarked for Property Tax Reduction. For FY 2000, half of the increase in state aid received by community colleges over the prior year, exclusive of state aid to replace out-district tuition, would have to be used to reduce the mill levy for operations.
Administrative State Aid and Operating Grants. Beginning in FY 2000, the bill provides that each community college would receive $300,000 for general administrative state aid. Selected community colleges also would receive operating grants in amounts set forth in the bill. The operating grants are the estimated amounts of money necessary in FY 2000 to either enable all community colleges to reduce their mill levies to 20 mills or to increase the amount of state aid received by the community college to 30 percent of the operating budget.
Other Policy Changes. In addition, the bill contains the following changes: county out-district tuition would be abolished; all community college vocational courses would be reimbursed at two times the hourly rate for academic courses; the 64/72 hour limit on academic courses would be removed for purposes of out-district state aid; the community college capital outlay levy limit would be increased from 2 mills to 3 mills; the Council would be required to identify core indicators of performance for community colleges and implement a community college data management system; the definition of "credit hour" would be amended to delete reference to one hour of instruction per week for 18 weeks; and general state aid to community colleges would be abolished.
Technical and Conforming Changes Made. Section 41 and Sections 43 through 51 would make technical amendments or other changes necessary to conform the statutes to the policies contained in Sub. for H.B. 2793. These changes include eliminating the authority of community colleges to levy for employee benefits and vocational education and exempting community colleges and Washburn University from the aggregate tax levy limit.
Washburn University Becomes a State Institution. Sections 52 through 61 and Section 84 provide for Washburn University to become a state institution under the control and supervision of the Council on July 1, 2000. All rights and liabilities of Washburn University would be transferred to the Council with the exception of endowment property, general obligation bonds which are outstanding on July 1, 2000, and other contractual obligations of Washburn University. During the transition period from July 1, 1999, to June 30, 2000, the Board of Regents of Washburn University would serve as liaison with the Board of Regents and the Council to implement the transition process. On July 1, 2000, the Board of Regents of Washburn University would be abolished. On that date, there would be established the Board of Trustees for Washburn University, whose power would include fixing the rate for the capital outlay levy on property located in the City of Topeka. The Board of Trustees would consist of nine members, appointed by the Governor, for terms of four years. The levy for capital outlay would be made by the governing body of the City of Topeka in an amount not to exceed 5 mills.
On July 1, 2000, endowment property currently managed by the Washburn University Board of Regents would be transferred to the existing Board of Trustees of the Washburn Endowment Association, a not-for-profit corporation. After June 30, 2000, moneys from tax levies made for Washburn University for tax years prior to tax year 2000 would be transferred to the Washburn University Board of Trustees.
Washburn Employees. By July 15, 1999, the Washburn University Board of Regents would submit to the Council a list of Washburn University employees who are recommended for employment. On July 1, 2000, the Council would appoint the employees on the list as approved or modified by the Council. All classified employees of the University as of July 1, 2000, could elect to remain under the present retirement system. Employees appointed to classified positions after July 1, 2000, would be eligible to participate in the regular state retirement system. The retirement system for unclassified employees would remain unchanged.
Tuition. Increases in student tuition would be tied to increases at the regional state universities (Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, and Pittsburg State University). For each percentage increase in tuition at the regional universities, Washburn University would increase student tuition by half that amount until the time that student tuition at Washburn University equals that at the regional universities.
Consolidation and Affiliation Provided For. Section 42 and Section 62 concern consolidation or affiliation of postsecondary institutions.
Consolidation. Community colleges, technical colleges, or area vocational schools would be able to consolidate with each other upon petition of the institutional governing boards, subject to the approval of the Council. Registered voters of a district could initiate a process by which the governing board of a community college, technical college, or an area vocational school would have to place the matter of consolidation with another postsecondary institution on the agenda of its next regular board meeting. Placement of the matter on the agenda would be required upon the petition of 15 percent of the registered voters of the district. The board would be required to either reject the petition or agree to the consolidation of institutions. If the petition is rejected by the governing board, another petition could not be initiated for 12 months. Institutions that consolidate would be eligible for additional state aid that would be provided as an incentive for institutions to consolidate or affiliate.
Affiliation. A community college, technical college, or area vocational school governing board would be able to affiliate with a public four-year university by submitting a petition to the Council to become a unit of the four-year institution. Petitions submitted by community colleges would be subject to a protest petition of 15 percent of the registered voters of the community college district. Any proposal to affiliate would be subject to the approval of the Council pursuant to rules and regulations adopted by the Council and would have to be specifically authorized by the Legislature. Community college operating mill levies would be eliminated upon affiliation. Specific legislation authorizing the affiliation of a community college, technical college, or area vocational school with a public four-year institution would provide authority for the levy of a local property tax for capital improvements and debt retirement. Local community college, technical college, or area vocational school governing boards would be retained and would have jurisdiction over noncredit economic development courses and community service activities. Institutional heads would be hired by the head of the affiliated university and budget requests would be part of the university request.
Student Financial Assistance Programs Created. Sections 63 through 70 would enact two new student financial assistance programs.
Dwight David Eisenhower Scholarship Act. A new state scholarship program would be created whereby an award would be made to pay tuition and fees for eight semesters or the equivalent for any Kansas resident who qualifies as a finalist for a national merit scholarship to attend full time an undergraduate program at any public postsecondary institution in Kansas. Funding would be available for the scholarship program in FY 2001.
Financial Assistance for Students at Postsecondary Institutions. Beginning with the fall semester of 2000, financial assistance would be provided to eligible students for all or part of the tuition and fees charged by public postsecondary institutions for up to eight semesters or the equivalent. The assistance would be for students with demonstrated need who maintain the equivalent of at least a 3.0 grade point average. The program would augment and supplement other available financial assistance.
Tax Credit Established. Section 71 creates an annual Kansas income tax credit (of up to $500 per dependent) equal to the amount paid for tuition, textbooks, and fees. The credit would be allowed for married taxpayers filing a joint return whose adjusted gross income is $80,000 or less, or for other taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is $40,000 or less. The tax credit would be for dependents' expenses to attend any public postsecondary institution, as defined in the bill, or an accredited independent college or university.
Multi-Year Appropriations Made. Sections 72 through 84 of Sub. for H.B. 2793 contain multi-year appropriations recommended by the Committee for postsecondary institutions as reflected below. The enhanced funding would be in addition to typical base budget funding increases and would be intended to enable postsecondary educational institutions to achieve a level of excellence that would not otherwise be possible.
FY 1999. Total funding of $6.6 million would be appropriated as follows:
FY 2000. Total funding of $81.6 million would be appropriated as follows:
$1.0 million for operations of the Council; and
FY 2001. All funding, totaling $100.4 million, would be appropriated to the Council on Higher Education as follows:
$1.0 million for operations of the Council;
FY 2002. All funding, totaling $127.4 million, would be appropriated to the Council on Higher Education as follows:
$1.0 million for operations of the Council;
Sub. for H.B. 2793, as amended, is the recommendation of the House Select Committee on Higher Education. The Select Committee received input on its proposal during tours around the state that involved stops at each Regents institution and at eight community colleges. In addition, the Committee appointed a group of representatives of the public postsecondary institutions affected by the bill to critique and respond to the Committee's proposal as it was being developed and to submit ideas for the Committee's consideration. In all, hundreds of representatives of postsecondary institutions across the state had the opportunity to make their views known to the Select Committee.
The legislation would not be implemented unless a proposed amendment to the education article of the Kansas Constitution, H.C.R. 5049, is approved by the voters at the November 3, 1998, general election. If enacted, Sub. for H.B. 2793 would create a single entity, the Kansas Council on Higher Education, that would control and supervise or coordinate all public postsecondary institutions in Kansas. The bill also appropriates multi-year funding for enhancements and property tax relief.
The bill includes dates for transition periods, transfer of institutions to the Council, and the abolition and creation of several boards and other entities. The most significant dates are:
The House Committee of the Whole amended the bill to add the tax credit provision that begins with the 1998 tax year. The other House Committee of the Whole amendment was technical in nature.
1. *Supplemental notes are prepared by the Legislative Research Department and do not express legislative intent. The supplemental note and fiscal note for this bill may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.ink.org/public/legislative/fulltext-bill.html.