Per-student funding in Kentucky is falling behind other states per a recent report, and the news has the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy worried about the future for economic growth.
Jason Bailey, director of KCEP, said the report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has some troubling indicators.
“We could drive the gap between those who are better off in Kentucky and those that aren’t even wider,” Bailey said. “It’s not what education should be doing. Education should be creating an opportunity for everyone.
“We’re getting away from publicly funded higher education and we’re becoming more like private universities.”
According to the report, Kentucky is one of three states cutting higher education over the last two years, and the state also has the highest funding cut per student in the nation.
With a 3.9 percent increase in tuition in 2015, Kentucky joins five states for the highest increase in costs since last year.
Bailey, who runs the progressive think tank, said the funding woes are part of a long-term trend in the state.
“If you look back from 1998 tuition has tripled in Kentucky,” Bailey said.
With little left to cut in the state budget, Bailey said the state needs to look to the revenue side to find resources.
Bailey was one member of the nearly two-dozen Kentuckians on former Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson’s blue ribbon tax reform commission, and he said the state should go return to the topic as a possible funding solution.
“We have a structural problem with our tax system in Kentucky where revenues don’t keep up with growth in the economy, and that creates a growing gap between the resources we have to pay for things like education and the resources we need to even sustain what we already have,” he said. “We have to look at our revenue stream.”