budget conversation may 1 (copy)

Interim Provost Carl Lejuez shares the specifics of the University's new budget model during a budget conversation on Wednesday, May 1. The plan is set to officially be implemented in FY 2021.

The University of Kansas' debt decreased by millions of dollars in the past academic year, an overview of budget documents shows.

For the 2020 fiscal year, the University has about $561 million in debt — that’s about $28 million less debt than the 2019 fiscal year.

By 2046, the University will finish paying its debt for its current projects. 

But that’s the simple picture, said Interim Provost Carl Lejuez. Projects from years ago are starting to get paid off. But the debt service, as the University calls it in its budget books, doesn’t account for any future projects the University plans to pursue. 

“Without question, debt service is decreasing,” Lejuez said. “Right now, we have a choice. We can say, ‘OK, maybe we want to be a little bit less assertive in bringing new buildings online, and as that debt service comes off, we can use those resources for other things.’” 

In between the 2018 and 2019 fiscal year, the University paid off about $27 million in debt. 

Much of the debt comes from the University’s Central District. The University pays about $21 million a year, according to a bond agreement with the Wisconsin Public Finance Authority, which issued the money for the Central District. 

The only building the University is paying for in the Central District is the Integrated Science Building, which cost about $117 million, according to a document obtained by the Kansan. Other buildings in the Central District, such as Stouffer Place apartments, are paid for by different corporations on campus, like KU Parking and KU Housing. 

The budget was the main focus last year for University faculty, students, staff and administrators. Lejuez announced in June 2018 the University would be undergoing a $20 million budget cut, after its reserves went from $65 million to $11 million in about five years.

To help implement the cut, positions in different schools were cut. The University offered buyouts to older professors with higher salaries

With the cut underway and the new budget model softly rolling out, Lejuez told the Kansan in August units wouldn’t have to go through another cut again. 

“Had we not done the cuts, with certainty we would not have been able to do the combination of low tuition increase, raises and no cuts,” Lejuez said. “Other universities at this time have announced new cuts, simply because the money has to come from somewhere.”

“What I do think this means is that we’re showing some fiscal restraint and responsibility,” Lejuez continued.