Ransdell addresses concerns at budget review subcommittee

President Gary Ransdell speaks about the effects of the state wide budget cuts in Frankfort on Thursday morning at the state capital building. The budget cuts could increase tuition by at least 3 percent. Jacob Hurdt/HERALD

Jacob Dick

WKU President Gary Ransdell voiced the effects of proposed funding cuts to the university Thursday morning in Frankfort before the state House’s Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education.

“Because the money that’s been cut to higher education over the last 8 years… there is no more across the board option,” Ransdell said. “For us to address these cuts, we’re going to eliminate… services our communities depend on because we are a public university.”

He supplemented his argument by presenting legislators with a study completed by the Budget Policy and Priorities that showed postsecondary education funding in Kentucky remains below levels that others states implemented before the economic recession of 2008.

Ransdell said there would be an expected 3 percent tuition raise as outlined by the Council of Postsecondary Education. He warned that more tuition raises would come from the impending budget cuts, pushing the university out of its competitive price point and raising debt for students.

He also added that raises in tuition and fees couldn’t hope to make up missing state pension funds with Gov. Bevin’s proposed cuts to higher education.

“I know that bail out has to occur, but it is confounding to use that those who are driving the economy and filling the workforce…  have to take such a responsibility in that regard,” Ransdell said

Ransdell also mentioned that The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at WKU, named as “best high school in America” by The Daily Beast, is not exempt to budget cuts.  

“You funded the Gatton Academy at $4.9 million a year so those 200 students have housing and tuition for free,” Ransdell said to the subcommittee. “If these cuts hold up, 18 slots in the Gatton Academy goes away… you’re moving backwards.”

Other education experts and university presidents addressed the subcommittee after President Ransdell took his leave to give remarks to students presenting research at the Poster at the Capital event on Thursday. Morehead University President Wayne Andrews, and Robert L. King, President of the Council on Postsecondary Education, were among the presenters after Ransdell.

Although he recently announced his retirement as university president in less than a year and a half, Ransdell won’t be taking it easy when it comes to the proposed funding cuts to his school.

“I’ve got 16 months to go and a long to-do list ahead of me,” Ransdell said. “I just hope [the legislature] will help ease the pain.”