Performance-based postsecondary funding bill passes House 65-29

03/14/2017 04:24 PM

FRANKFORT — Legislation that would move the state to a performance-based funding model for the state’s public colleges and universities is heading to Gov. Matt Bevin’s desk after passing the House on a 65-29 vote Tuesday.

Senate Bill 153 would base postsecondary funding on a number for factors, such as student retention and degrees conferred.

Current funding levels would be retained in 2019 and any variances would be limited to 1 percent and 2 percent in the following two years, respectively.

Rep. James Tipton carried the bill on the House floor and said the group tasked with drafting a performance-based funding plan last year set a goal to increase postsecondary graduation rates from 45 percent to 58 percent by 2025.

“It is their belief and mine as well that achieving this goal is critical if Kentucky hopes to accelerate job growth, grow the economy and expand our tax base through the contributions of a more highly skilled and productive workforce,” said Tipton, R-Taylorsville. “To accomplish this, Kentucky must advance more people through the postsecondary education system with graduation in less time.”

Language had been added to last year’s biennial budget that called for the beginnings of a performance-based funding model for Kentucky’s colleges and universities.

But the plan contained in SB 153 goes beyond other performance-based funding methods elsewhere in the U.S., Rep. Arnold Simpson said.

None of the 38 states with such funding models include schools’ entire state appropriations, according to Simpson, D-Covington.

“It’s my understanding that each and every state that’s embarked upon this course has done so with the benefit of new money, using it as an incentive to change conduct and whatnot,” he said, adding that basing funding on performance in the future may prove “injurious” to the state’s higher education system.

House Minority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins said the bill, as written, would create disparity within the state’s public university system.

Adkins, D-Sandy Hook, said he’s concerned “that there’s going to be unintended consequences where we have winners and we have losers, and all of that’s not going to be based on competition for these funds.”

“Some of that’s going to be based on the very significant challenges that are seen at some of our universities in different parts of the state,” he said. “… We need to work on graduation rates. we need to work on retention. We need to do all of those things, but I’m here to tell you I don’t think the system’s broke.”

However, Rep. Jim DeCesare noted that university presidents have signed off on the concept and that drafters of the bill sought consensus from stakeholders. Concerns raised on the House floor Tuesday had already been hashed out in drafting the bill, he said.

“This is not a perfect piece of legislation, but it is a starting point,” said DeCesare, R-Bowling Green. “Everyone made concessions. There was give and take throughout the process. Not everybody got what they wanted, and I mean everybody, all the universities.”


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