WSU student leaders say higher education funding too important to cut

WICHITA, Kan. The new budget approved by Kansas lawmakers early Monday morning includes more cuts to state universities. It's part of the effort to close an approximate $290 million budget shortfall.

Wichita State University Student Government President Joseph Shepard says higher education is too important to cut. He oversees a $9.2 million budget and last year, he found himself in a position somewhat similar to what lawmakers in Topeka face today, although he admits the $320,000 shortfall he faced is on a much smaller scale.

"And I truly believe we are the future leaders of this state, and if we believe that as a state, we'll have to walk the walk and talk the talk," Shepard said.

He says part of the reason Wichita State's student government understands what it's like to work with a shortfall is because of state lawmakers and cuts they've made in the past.

Shepard says last time lawmakers cut higher education funding, tuition at WSU went up and he believes that's why fewer students enrolled at the university in 2015.

With few students, the Student Government Association (SGA) collected fewer student fees, the money that makes up the $9.2 million budget Shepard oversees.

"Because what happens is, when you take from higher education, tuition goes up, programming fees are going up and students are saying, 'I don't have money. I can't do this. I can't afford that,'" he said.

It's a cycle he doesn't want to repeat, but one he feels will if higher education keeps getting cut.