Kansas regents may seek more control over campus projects

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Board of Regents may consider changing some of its policies so the board can have more oversight over new building projects on university campuses.

The issue that's led to the consideration involves projects called public-private partnerships in which a private, outside entity gives money for construction and then leases the building to a university until it's paid off. The partnerships are sometimes called P3 financing.

The Lawrence Journal-World (http://bit.ly/2bt3Mx4 ) reports that the University of Kansas used the partnership to finance a $350 million Central District project, currently under construction on the Lawrence campus. Several lawmakers said the university used the process to bypass the Legislature, which would have had to approve the project first if the school used the state's own bonding agency.

Lawmakers are concerned that if something goes wrong with the project, taxpayers will be responsible for the project because the buildings are on state property.

The university said it plans to use student fees and other revenue to make the lease payments.

University of Kansas chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and Wichita State University president John Bardo have urged the Regents to not go too far in regulating the public-private partnerships.

"Most states seem to be moving heaven and earth to make P3's easier. We seem to be moving in the other direction," Bardo told the Regents on Wednesday.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

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