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Kansas Budget Funds University Research Initiatives; TBED Programs Moved to Commerce

May 18, 2011

The budget approved by lawmakers for FY12 includes $15 million in research grant money for three Kansas universities to expand programs in emerging industry sectors as proposed by Gov. Sam Brownback and allocates $10.5 million annually for an initiative to enhance engineering education and increase the number of qualified engineers in the state.

Announced by Gov. Brownback earlier this year, the University Economic Growth Initiative will provide $15 million for research in areas seen as critical to growing the state's economy (see the Jan. 26, 2011 issue of the Digest). This includes $5 million each for animal health research at Kansas State University (KSU), cancer research at the University of Kansas (KU) Medical Center, and aviation research at Wichita State University. The universities must provide a dollar-for-dollar match.

Lawmakers also approved a bill allocating $10.5 million per year to expand engineering programs and create a steady stream of graduates for businesses. Specifically, the University Engineering Initiative Act aims to increase the number of graduates to 1,365 per year by 2021. The money, which comes from lottery revenues, will be split equally between three newly created funds for KSU, KU and Wichita State and requires a 1:1 match from non-state sources. Another bill passed by the legislature adds $65 million in bonding authority for KU's School of Engineering expansion project with debt service paid from special revenue funds of the university. Both measures await action by Gov. Brownback.

Lawmakers concurred with the governor's recommendation to eliminate the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation (KTEC) and move some of its programs to the Department of Commerce.
HB 2054 transfers the organization's duties to Commerce beginning July 1. Some of its programs will continue to receive state support, including entrepreneurial centers, centers of excellence, the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center, and the angel tax credit programs, reports The Wichita Eagle. The Pipeline program, which provides funding and resources to entrepreneurs, will not receive additional funding in the new fiscal year.

Earlier this year, Gov. Brownback established the Council of Economic Advisors as part of his economic reform plan. Chaired by the governor, the council replaces Kansas Inc., an independent economic development research agency, and is charged with unifying the state's programs to grow the economy.

The FY12 budget conference committee report documents are available at: http://skyways.lib.ks.us/ksleg/KLRD/Appropriations.html.