Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What's new with Higher Education budgeting in Kentucky?

Come to Eastern and find out!

EKU Faculty Senate Legislative Forum
November 18, 2013
EKU Center for the Arts
Main stage
3 - 4:30 pm 

Free and Open to the Public

     Moderated by Mr. David McFadden, 
Exec. Dir. EKU Governmental Relations and Regional Stewardship

    Confirmed legislative panelists:
§  Jared Carpenter, (R) Senate Dist. 34, Senate Education, Postsecondary Education.
§  Rita Smart, (D) House Dist. 81, House Education, House Appropriations.
§  Jonathan Shell, (R) House Dist. 36, Garrard/Madison.
§  Arnold Simpson, (D) (House Dist. 65) Co-Chair Budget Review Sub on   Postsecondary Education, House A & R.

 With a Budget Presentation from CPE President Bob King, and VP Aaron Thompson

When I entered the University of Kentucky as a freshman in 1969, my middle-class parents were able to afford my tuition, room, and board. I worked full-time every summer, and part-time during the school year to cover my additional expenses. I couldn’t afford a car, but I had a bus ticket home, and everything I really needed to get started in my chosen profession of teaching. I graduated in four years, without any debt.

My experience was fairly unremarkable for its time.

In those days America was focused on increasing the percentage of baby-boomers who were college educated. Higher education was seen as having a direct correlation to Kentucky’s economic prosperity and Kentucky contributed as much as two-thirds of the cost of a college education in the belief that the state would realize a return in a more productive citizenry – and the state’s GDP soared.

For today’s students the circumstance has reversed. Economists say the state’s antiquated tax structure is not responsive enough to changes in the economy and we could face a $1 billion deficit by 2020 unless something is done. Revenue growth, which stood at 14% in the 60s, has shrunk to 2% in the 2000s. The state now supports about one third of a students’ costs, leaving Kentucky families to make up the other two-thirds.

As Bill Ellis wrote in his History of Education in Kentucky, our colleges and universities have had difficulty balancing their budgets in the new century with a full-fledged recession beginning in 2008. Public universities saw their endowments drop 20%, and faculty raises became rare. 

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics and Forbes Magazine, today’s average US college student graduates in just under 6 years and leaves school with an average debt of $27,253 – a 58% increase over the past seven years. At the same time, the median earnings for bachelor's degree-holders 25 and older have fallen by 3 percent, and delinquency on student loans taken out since 2010 stands at 15.1%. 

These facts will be of no comfort to our legislators who, as the Herald-Leader reported, will be called upon to address a host of challenges that include other legitimate public demands in healthcare, pensions, and other public services. Weak state revenues have limited legislative choices while the state’s most recent blue-ribbon commission on taxation produced a report the nonpartisan Tax Foundation called a “disappointing grab bag.”

According to the Daily News, Public education funding is expected to be a hot topic when the Kentucky General Assembly convenes in January. The preparation of the state’s biennial budget will be the lawmakers’ major task as they divide just under $20 billion, 45 percent of which goes to public education. The other 55 percent funds everything else, including postsecondary education. It is clear this is going to take some time to fix. It is not an enviable job.

Amid all of this, higher education budgeting may be taking a turn. The faculty at EKU has heard talk of performance-based budgeting but lacks a clear picture of what that will look like. The Forum provides a unique opportunity to learn more about the Council on Postsecondary Education’s proposed budget to hear a discussion of related issues with our legislators and to ask questions.

·         Call to Order, Dr. Richard E. Day, Associate Professor of Educational Foundations
·         Welcome on behalf of the EKU Faculty Senate: Dr. Sheila Pressley, Chair, EKU Faculty Senate
·        Opening Remarks: Eastern Kentucky University President Michael T. Benson  
·        Historical factors and current fiscal realities: Richard Day
·         Presentation: Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King and Senior Vice President Aaron Thompson
·         Responses/dialogue from legislative panelists
·         Moderated Q&A
·         Questions from audience

No comments: