Coal severance tax can pay for the University of Pikeville to join state system, Stumbo says

01/04/2012 11:54 PM

Lawmakers will unveil a bill Thursday that would add the University of Pikeville to the state university system without taking resources away from the other eight four-year public institutions and community colleges, the House Speaker said Wednesday.

In a press conference following Gov. Steve Beshear’s State of the Commonwealth Address, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Pikeville, said he wished the governor would have mentioned the University of Pikeville proposal during those remarks.

Stumbo said having the independent university join the public system would bolster the education and economic opportunities in Eastern Kentucky.

Stumbo says the proposal that will be presented on Thursday will not use any general fund dollars. That should eliminate concerns over another university losing state funding because of it, he said.

The money to fund the proposal looks at projections from an already existing multi-county coal severance tax fund in the region that includes 12 counties, Stumbo said. About 70 percent of their money goes into this fund, and that money will be earmarked in a new fund for the operation of the University of Pikeville, he said.

Former Gov. Paul Patton, who now is president of the University of Pikeville, first confirmed talks about adding the university to the state system last month.

Stumbo said the university’s trustees have committed to improving academic programs.

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