The state's public universities could suffer minimal pain or double-digit cuts in 2012 depending on the fate of Gov. Steve Beshear's long-shot proposal for gambling.
University leaders didn't immediately leap Tuesday to support the governor's expanded-gambling plan, which faces a skeptical General Assembly.
Officials of the eight public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System politely praised Beshear for what they called his commitment to preserve higher-education funding, then turned to lobbying the legislature.
University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. said the presidents won't back any particular method for raising revenue.
"I firmly believe that the legislature and the governor want to help higher education if they have the resources," he said. "We'll leave it up to them to figure out where the revenue source comes from."
Beshear's plan largely aims to protect education.
The Support Education Excellence in Kentucky fund, the major source of money for K-12 schools, would be exempt from cuts for fiscal years 2011 and 2012 under the proposal. Beshear recommends preserving SEEK funds even if the gambling measure doesn't pass....
Last night I attended the presentation of Governor Stephen Beshear’s 2010-2012 budget message to the Kentucky General Assembly. I would suspect that many of you have read or seen news accounts of that presentation.
Once again, Governor Beshear has shown his commitment to postsecondary education and his understanding of our value to the Commonwealth’s future...
Tomorrow, I will speak on behalf of the Kentucky higher education committee to the House Budget Review Subcommittee. In my remarks, I will encourage the legislature to consider the profound need for new revenue. Kentucky’s budget woes run far deeper than simply the downturn in the economy. There was a structural imbalance between recurring income and recurring expenses even before the economy soured. It is my sincerest hope that the Governor and General Assembly will work together to solve this issue whether through expanded gaming, some other form of revenue enhancement, or a combination thereof.
This process has just begun and will play out over the coming months. I will keep you informed at every appropriate opportunity. My request to you is to not succumb to alarmism and to continue to do the same fine job you are doing today. That is the best way to continue to communicate our worth and our dedication to the public policy makers of this state.
Kentucky school districts would receive slightly more money per student under Gov. Steve Beshear's proposed two-year budget, but they would see cuts of about 2 percent to other programs and initiatives.
Beshear said one of his highest priorities is maintaining the current level of the state's formula for funding public schools, called Support Education Excellence in Kentucky, or SEEK.
His budget calls for schools to receive $3,891 per student in 2011 and $3,927 in 2012, slight increases over the $3,866 per student that districts are receiving this year.
“The best long-term investment that we can make in the future of our Commonwealth is educating our kids,” Beshear said Tuesday. “If we give them a proper education, they will be able to get the jobs of the future. If they are working, all of the rest of our problems take care of themselves.” ...
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said he was happy to learn that Beshear is proposing an increase in per-pupil funding, particularly because state funding has been flat the past several years.
“We are very happy that the governor held education as one of his top priorities,” he said.
Beshear's budget also includes $21.9 million over the next two years to implement Senate Bill 1.
But he said that amount is contingent on the state receiving Race to the Top federal grant money from the Obama administration. Race to the Top is an initiative that pits states against each other and rewards those that develop the best plans to improve student achievement.
“If we don't get that money, we will have to revisit (the budget) and see if we need to put additional state monies in there to implement Senate Bill 1,” Beshear said...
Sharron Oxendine, president of the Kentucky Education Association, applauded the governor “for continuing to protect education. I think he realizes the detrimental effect not funding education would have on the commonwealth.”
Oxendine also said she believes Beshear is “doing the best he can with what he's got.”
Beshear's budget proposal also includes an additional $173 million over the next two years to cover the higher cost of health insurance for school district employees and $150 million in bonds for school facility improvements.