Senate performance-based funding bill for state colleges and universities passes House committee

03/07/2017 04:06 PM

FRANKFORT – A Senate bill which would fund the state’s postsecondary schools based on the numbers of degrees they confer, students enrolled, credit hours earned among other things was passed by the House Committee on Appropriations and Revenue Tuesday.

Senate Bill 153, sponsored by Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, passed by a 16-3 vote in committee.

The bill places in statute a performance-based funding model which would be administered by the Council on Postsecondary Education, and would be gradually implemented if it becomes law. Provisions are included that would retain funding levels in fiscal year 2019 and limit any reductions to 1 percent and 2 percent in the following fiscal years, respectively.

SB 153 would split public university funding into three tiers: 35 percent would be based on degrees conferred — with focus on science, technology, engineering and math degrees and those received by low-income and underrepresented minority students — and student progression; 35 percent would be credit hours earned; and 30 percent would support campus operations.

Five percent of universities’ budgets had been set aside in the biennial budget for a performance-based appropriation.

The legislation is the result of a compromise between all of the state university presidents who met numerous times to come up with a performance-based funding model.

Western Kentucky University President Dr. Gary Ransdell, who chaired the committee, admitted that the bill is not perfect, but said it is fair and objective.

“It holds us accountable for the first time in certainly the 20 years that I’ve been a president at a university in the commonwealth and certainly for decades before that,” Ransdell said. “We actually have something in place that allows us to know of what we’re working toward and we won’t be spending our time creating a different model every year.”

Morehead State University President Dr. Wayne Andrews, supports the movement towards performance-based funding for higher education, but asked that lawmakers give more thought on how the new formula would affect smaller schools in financially struggling areas.

“I’m here to represent students and parents in a geographic part of the commonwealth that’s very challenged, and it challenged because the extractive industries that for generations have brought tremendous revenue into the commonwealth, are now in decline,” Andrews said. “That calculus for us is an impact on our enrollment.”

Rep. Rocky Atkins, D-Sandy Hook, filed two amendments addressing Andrew’s concerns. Atkins also had concerns that a number of the university presidents who signed the agreement bringing about SB 153, are leaving their posts.

“There’s five of you that aren’t going to be here to implement this,” Atkins said.

Both of the amendments were voted down.

SB 153 moves on to the House for consideration.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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