Wednesday, October 23, 2013 >
Kansas lawmakers toured Wichita State University on Wednesday, gathering information about programs and spending.
The tour comes at a time when state funding for higher education in Kansas is being cut.
This past June the legislature cut $33 million for colleges for this year and $32.8 million for next year.
The lawmakers want the state's colleges to make a case for increased funding.
Members of the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees toured the University's National Institute for Aviation Research or NIAR.
Part of the tour included NIAR's Aircraft Structural Testing and Evaluation Center located in the old Kansas Coliseum.
The research facility gets the vast majority of its funding from the aviation industry.
Ty Masterson is a Republican from Andover and Chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in the Kansas Legislature.
"The purpose of the tour is to determine what the taxpayer's role is in higher education", said Masterson. "It's not just about a piece of paper, it's about jobs."
Representative Barbara Ballard, a Democrat who teaches at KU, says the funding cuts by the legislature are frustrating. "Any time we cut funding that means other things have to make up for it like raising tuition or cutting faculty," Ballard said.
The legislators will continue their tour for five days visiting all seven state supported universities and some community colleges.