CPE President says proposed 2.5% state cuts to universities could hurt students in classroom, financially

02/05/2014 10:49 AM

Cutting state funding to higher education would mean stunting some of the efforts being made on campuses and puts in doubt the ability of the Council on Postsecondary Education to be able to hold down tuition rate, said the CPE president.

“The perception has been, ‘no problem universities — you can just make up the difference with tuition’,” said Robert L. King, president of the council, which oversees the eight public universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. “The reality, however, has been that tuition only covers about half of that gap and so over time as the size of the gap keeps accumulating, it then has an impact on the capacity of the universities to retain high quality faculty, it puts pressure on using part time faculty instead of full-time faculty.”

Gov. Steve Beshear recommended 2.5 cuts next year in the $20 two-year state biennial budget. That would mean public universities will have taken a 17 percent reduction in state funding since 2008.

King that affects the type of education students get because it forces the institutions to rely more on part-time instructors. Adjunct professors, while often knowledgeable, are more removed from curriculum development and often not as available to help students the way a full-time professors can, King said.

“There is no question that the longer we go in this state in reducing funding to higher education at a time when the global economy is saying to us that our citizens need to be more highly educated to compete for 21st century jobs, we are essentially undermining the state’s future capacity to be an economically viable enterprise,” King said (at 6:30).

King and university leaders are lobbying legislators to at least flat-line state funding and/or to put in a pot of money that would be doled out based on how well universities do in producing degrees. King sat down for an interview with Pure Politics just before Beshear unveiled his tax reform plan, which was drafted to increase revenue by $210 million.

“The reality is that this is the most significant investment we can make in the state’s future,” King said (at 8:20). “Everywhere that I hear the governor go and talk about the need to grow our economy, what he says first is what employers need most is a workforce that will meet their needs.”

King said that university leaders support the governor’s proposed increase in spending for K-12 education, but if the funding priorities stop there, then the state is shorting its future.

“That’s why I think we have got to find ways to either re-prioritize higher education and elevate it…or we’ve got to find some new revenue,” King said.

_(Watch Pure Politics tonight at 7 p.m./6 Central for more of the interview, including a plan that could affect all of Kentucky’s education systems from K-12 to universities). _


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