University presidents promise major cuts in programs and personnel if proposed budget cuts become a reality

02/01/2018 02:57 PM

FRANKFORT – Three of Kentucky’s university and college presidents say that if Gov. Matt Bevin’s recommended cuts to higher education budget become a reality, look for significant cuts to take place in relation to programs and jobs on campus.

Members of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education heard from EKU President Michael Benson, WKU President Timothy Caboni, and Kentucky Community and Technical College (KCTS) President Jay Box about the negative effects the cuts will have on their institutions.

Part of the proposal calls for 6.25 percent cuts, but the presidents say that’s just the beginning, when you add previous cuts sustained over the past decade.

Benson told committee members that the proposed budget cuts to EKU results in university having the same appropriations that that had two decades ago.

“If the proposed executive budget moves forward, EKU sands to be below 50 percent funding from the state by 2020,” Benson said. “The funding in 2020 is comparable to levels that we received in the late 1990’s.”

Benson says that another strain for the university in addition to the budget cuts are the increased pension costs the university will be responsible for.

“For fiscal year 18, 19 and 20, the proposed contribution increases are in excess for our campus of 10 million dollars, so our KRS obligation will go from 22 million currently, to 32 million by July 1st of this year,” Benson said.

For KCTS, Box says his proposed 10 percent cuts a a result of the budget costs would generate only 87 percent of the need resulting in $22,184,400 of the $25.5 million short fall; not enough to cover the appropriation cuts, pension increases, and fixed cost increases.

“Our state appropriations have been cut now by $11.1 million going into the next biennium,” Box said.

The result will be the potential loss of a number of KCTS programs and services which have been a huge part of their success.

“One example, a reduction of hours that we would have open for our offices which provide services to students, our libraries, our other areas, we just wouldn’t be able to keep those facilities open, or the services provided.”

Like the other presidents, WKU President Timothy Caboni says the increased pension costs will be a heavy burden for his institution to undertake.

“If you look at the proposed budget, the pension system rate increases for KERS in one year alone to 7.2 million dollars for WKU and we don’t know yet what KTRS rate increases will be,” Caboni said.

Caboni says if the proposed budget cuts goes through, he and his staff will have no choice but to eliminate a number of programs and personnel.

“By the beginning on March, we’ll begin the difficult and grueling task or reducing our workforce,” Caboni said.

Next Thursday, the committee will hear from three more university presidents about the ramifications of the proposed budget cuts.


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