PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University will receive about $640,000 in restored funds.

On Tuesday, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer stopped by PSU to sign the state’s budget bill for fiscal year 2019 this week.

Passed by the Kansas Legislature in April, the budget bill restores about $15 million in funding for the state’s higher education system. Former Gov. Sam Brownback ordered $30 million in cuts to higher education last year.

According to a release, lawmakers previously restored $6 million, leaving universities $24 million below the pre-cut level.

Out of the $640,000 in restored funds Colyer signed for, nearly $610,000 will be restored to the university’s base block grant, the School of Construction will receive more than $13,000, and the Polymer Chemistry Initiative will get more than $17,000.

“I think this is a great first step because here’s what we know — higher education really is the best hope for Kansas families,” Blake Flanders, CEO for the Kansas Board of Regents, said. “If you look out into our changing economy, 71 percent of jobs require some kind of education beyond high school, so this support is critical for us to keep tuition affordable for Kansas families.”

PSU President Dr. Steve Scott emphasized the importance of the progress this bill represents.

“We look forward to working alongside to help continue to make the case for higher education as it relates to the Kansas economy, quality of life, economies in these regions we serve, and the entire state of Kansas,” Scott said. “The reason we chose to be in this space today is no accident, as the library is at the heart of the academic purpose and mission.”

Colyer began his speech by thanking PSU for its contributions to the state.

“We value educational institutions and with today’s economy, there are thousands of jobs that require higher skill sets,” the governor said. “We have a future for the kids in this state, and in order to fulfill those 21st century jobs, we need to succeed with this mission because it is critical for young people to stay in our state.”

Colyer discussed a bill for kindergarten through 12th grade funding he had signed in April.

“I wanted a bill that would fund our k-12 schools but could also show measurable outcomes and that is meaningful all the way up to higher education,” he said. “I want the same for the money we provided today because we owe it to our students to give them the best possible chance to succeed.”

The governor said the budget also features fully funded programs that offer free tuition to high school students who are involved in tech ed courses.

“So when you graduate from a Kansas high school, you can have a valuable certificate to leads you on to a better future,” Colyer said. “I think this will really move the ball for us, and believe me, there is no better place than Kansas.”

 — Brandon Schmitz is a staff writer for the Morning Sun. He can be reached at bschmitz@morningsun.net.