Caboni meets with state legislators in Frankfort Wednesday

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Evan Heichelbech

President Timothy Caboni met with state legislators in the Kentucky Senate on Wednesday to discuss proposed budget cuts among other things as the legislative session continues. 

WKU is facing a potential $40 million deficit in part thanks to Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed across-the-board cuts to state agencies , which includes higher education. The cuts from the state amount to $4.6 million for WKU. 

“If you add to that $4.6 million… it’s significant,” Caboni told the Herald editorial board last week. “It’s doubly so because its on top of a $15 million shortfall we’re already grappling with because of enrollment shifts within our student population.”

WKU also has a $9 million additional charge for KERS, one of the university’s pension obligations.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky is in a tough spot because of pensions,” Caboni said last week. “The state needs more revenue than it has to do what it wants to do. I don’t know where the conversation goes besides we’re going to talk about the budget. The governor has been very clear that the pensions will be part of the session. That has significant implications for higher education and WKU in particular.”

{{tncms-inline account=”Mike Wilson” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Happy to introduce WKU’s new President <a href="https://twitter.com/caboni?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@caboni</a> Tim Caboni. Thanks for visiting with me and all the alumni’s in the Senate!! <a href="https://twitter.com/aliceforgykerr?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@aliceforgykerr</a> <a href="https://t.co/u4OjIHDxcu">pic.twitter.com/u4OjIHDxcu</a></p>— Mike Wilson (@mikewilson2018) <a href="https://twitter.com/mikewilson2018/status/956247377085595653?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 24, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/mikewilson2018/status/956247377085595653″ type=”twitter”}}

The largest cut WKU has ever negotiated through was about $8 million. A budget council for the university has been working since September under the leadership of finance professor Indudeep Chaachi, and Caboni said recommendations from the council are coming next month. 

Enrollment has been a root cause for a large portion of WKU’s deficit, and Caboni said he doesn’t expect the declining numbers to change course. 

“We need to plan on the downward trend in international enrollment and a shifting among other kinds of enrollment to continue,” he said. “I’ve seen nothing to suggest otherwise.”

{{tncms-inline account=”Jennifer Smith” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Busy day in Frankfort with <a href="https://twitter.com/caboni?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@caboni</a> advocating for <a href="https://twitter.com/wku?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wku</a>. Enjoyed meeting with <a href="https://twitter.com/JShellKY?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JShellKY</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/kyrudy?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@kyrudy</a> <a href="https://t.co/08GOljDTib">pic.twitter.com/08GOljDTib</a></p>— Jennifer Smith (@JenBreiwaSmith) <a href="https://twitter.com/JenBreiwaSmith/status/956249770233860098?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 24, 2018</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/JenBreiwaSmith/status/956249770233860098″ type=”twitter”}}

Caboni also mentioned in the meeting with the Herald that a reduction of staff was a possibility. 

“These will be some incredibly difficult conversations in the coming months,” he said. 

Digital Managing Editor Evan Heichelbech can be reached at 502-415-1817 and [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @evanheich.