Building education is at the center of governor's two-year budget proposal

01/21/2014 06:14 PM

Gov. Steve Beshear is making good on his pledge to find more money for education at any expense as he rolled out his two-year budget plan on Tuesday night.

In proposing his budget to state lawmakers, Governor Beshear announced cuts of up to 5 percent to many agencies to free up about $98.6 million over the next two years to help fund education increases.

“This budget proposal strategically focuses our very limited resources on what I believe will deliver the greatest return: a more highly educated population that will become a more talented workforce,” Beshear said.

Some of Governor Beshear’s proposed education investments include:

K-12 investment suggestions

After five years of not buying new textbooks in the state, the governor’s proposal would spend more than $95 million over the next two years on textbooks, school safety and professional development.

The Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK for short) would be provided with the highest level of funding the program has seen with an investment of $188.9 million over the biennium. (About $71 million in Fiscal Year 2015 and $118 million in Fiscal Year 2016).

Most of that money will pay for salary raises for teachers in the state, something members of both parties have argued for. Teachers would see a 2 percent raise in salary 2015, followed by a 1 percent raise in 2016. Those teacher raises will account for the bulk of the increased SEEK money, according to members of Beshear’s cabinet.

Beshear is also suggesting $50 million for upgrades in technology in schools as well as $100 million for construction to aging K-12 school buildings.

But it’s more of a mixed bag for public universities.

As for higher-education, the governor is recommending that higher-education receive a 2.5 percent cut rather than the 5 percent cut most agencies are seeing in his proposal.

Many of the state’s universities would see millions from both General Fund supported bonds and agency bonds to invest in infrastructure needs.

The budget proposal also includes $60 million for the Bucks for Brains program, the program which helps universities attract faculty for research and innovation.

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