Postsecondary education president hopeful that state colleges and universities can save some programs

01/18/2018 03:55 PM

FRANKFORT – Postsecondary education officials are hopeful that a number of education programs which Gov. Matt Bevin had suggested not be funded for the next biennium will have a chance to stay in place as a result of discussions with the General Assembly.

Twenty-four of the seventy programs cut were part of postsecondary education including lung cancer research grants, Kentucky Center for Mathematics at NKU, Robinson Scholars at the University of Kentucky, plus 21 others.

Robert King, President, Council on Postsecondary Education, says that he is hopeful that some of the programs, which he feels are of great benefit, can be restored in negotiations with members of the General Assembly.

“There are others I know that our campuses are going to want the General Assembly to reconsider,” King said. “They range from a program that does lung cancer research at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, there’s a program to support the study of folk art Morehead that, I think, is very important to them.”

Another concern for college and university presidents is a steep increase in pension payments, especially for schools like Northern Kentucky University.

By fiscal year 2019, NKU could be shelling out over $31 million with no change in employee benefits, a jump from 10 to 84 percent in less than a decade.

According to state reports, $31 million dollars equals 60 percent of next year’s state funding, meaning that over half of NKU’s state funds would go back to Frankfort to fund employee pensions.

“The impact for them is extraordinary, and how that’s going to be addressed, I don’t know,” King said. “The total impact on our campuses, which is the six comprehensive universities, and KCCTS, in the upcoming year is 47 million dollars of additional costs over and top of what they’re already spending.”

Higher education as sustained cuts continuously for more than a decade and King believes that the time has come for state officials to realize that in order to have a more prosperous Kentucky, investment in postsecondary education is essential, not continuous cuts.

“To attract new jobs to Kentucky, or to encourage existing employers to grow in Kentucky, they need a trained, educated workforce,” King said. “The only way that’s coming, is our public universities and the community and technical colleges. To continue this erosion of funding for the single most powerful tool that the state has to create the workforce we need, says we’ve got to rethink this.”


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