President's Page - February 3, 2020

18th Blog – 2020 Policy Initiatives 

State Government News – 

  • The Kansas Legislature convened January 16, 2020 for Governor Laura Kelley’s State of the State address. A number of initiatives surfaced for discussion; along with new ones, prior initiatives continue to percolate and receive ongoing evaluation. Governor Kelley unveiled her proposed budget which included several points of emphases:  Medicaid expansion, tax amendments, food sales tax relief, State Highway Fund, Foster Care, Corrections, re-amortizing KPERS, and rural economic growth. 
  • In regard to higher education and the two-year sector, the Governor proposed $4.5 million in additional funds to support Excel in Career and Technical Education SB155 (CTE), high school scholarships this fiscal year, an additional $8.5 million in funds to support SB155 next fiscal year; an additional $1.5 million for “non-tiered” (general education) courses next fiscal year; and $1.1 million additional funding for “tiered" (career technical) courses for next fiscal year.
  • In addition to the Governor’s message, the Kansas Department of Commerce provided the Kansas Framework for (Economic) Growth – see second attachment.  I bring this to your attention as the document provides a telling assessment of Kansas’ key challenges and trends.
  • This past week, the Governor’s proposed budget was met with a Republican legislative counter proposal impacting the higher education two-year sector; the counter proposal included the unveiling of the Kansas Promise Scholarship Act – HB 2515.  This Act will be a “last dollar” program aimed at the most in-demand fields in the state and increasing access to community and technical college education for Kansas high school graduates.  Additionally, this Act is a targeted economic development tool. Focusing these scholarship dollars on highest demand jobs within the Kansas economy helps companies meet the talent needs they have today and in the future.  This program would be open only to Kansas high school graduates, require those graduates to complete 200 hours of community services to help repay the scholarship investment, and then—and this is of critical importance--those students would be required to reside in Kansas for at least two years after their certificate or associates degree completion.  Kansas Community Colleges believe the residency portion of the bill will help not only retain population in the state of Kansas, but will also give Kansas companies the best chance at hiring top quality Kansas talent, and could be an extremely effective rural revitalization tool.
  • Another item- - facilitating the merger of higher education entities-- continues to be a point of discussion; however, a proposed bill has not been presented.  The conceptual consideration is not to mandate mergers, but rather eliminate legislative obstacles that may currently exist that prevent merger consideration.   You may be aware that there is growing support for an expanded two-year and university coalition presence in Dodge City.  Barton is entering this discussion and although not a merger per se, it would call for closer working relationships.
  • A most recent proposal is HB 294.  This proposed measure impacts taxing entities and places a lid on tax dollars.  If local evaluation increases, the mill levy must then decrease so that the entity cannot receive any additional dollars without additional measures being introduced – see SB 294 attachment.

Kansas Board of Regents News – 

Under the umbrella of the Technical Education Authority, a KBOR subsidiary responsible for evaluating and recommending career tech policy directives, a number of measures are currently being undertaken.

  • An assessment of SB155 course fees assuring common definition of what applies as a course fee.
  • Determining career tech allocation costs and extra-ordinary costs that are both factored into the framework for justifying career tech funding.
  • Prioritizing career tech funding through the review and identification of high demand/high pay career fields.

KBOR is also in the process of 

  • Identifying the higher education strategic plan for 2021-2030.  While planning is necessary, this means that each community college in Kansas, already responsible for accountable long-range planning, will also be required to add the KBOR plan. The inclusion serves as a second level of accountability and increases the level of our responsiveness and efforts. The Kansas Promise Scholarship Act holds great opportunity for eligible students; however, as with all new programs, there also comes new expectations and reporting guidelines that can impact our State funding.
  • In regard to KBOR strategic planning, Barton is assigned metric standards through the establishment and cyclical function of Performance Agreements.  The Performance Agreements are the mechanism by which Barton supports the strategic vision of KBOR.  Normally, there are five to six standards that are identified and the College’s effectiveness is determined by the number of standards that are met.  The new performance agreements supporting the “2030 Strategic Plan” data collection will begin summer 2022.  Meeting performance agreement metrics for a designated year (i.e. 2020), allows for eligibility to access new funding that may be available two years following (i.e. 2022).

Each of the areas of policy formulation highlighted above has the potential to be of benefit to Barton in meeting its mission with additional funding/students; conversely, any one of the eleven points could be the basis for minimizing the flow of State funding and/or restrictions of service.  The Kansas Promise Scholarship Act holds great opportunity for eligible students; however, with all new programs, there comes new expectations and reporting guidelines. 

KBOR/TEA, in meeting their legislative authority, continue to assess regional workforce trends that can shift the existing funding balance supporting career technical training.  Close monitoring is all the more important.

We shall see…