Bevin cuts higher ed: Proposed budget cuts could prove to be devastating to WKU

Gary v. Bevin

The issue: Last week, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin presented his plan to cut higher education funding by 9 percent over the next two years as well as an immediate 4.5 percent cut completed by executive action.

Our stance: A college education is necessary when entering the workforce, but Kentucky is putting less of an emphasis on the importance of postsecondary education.

During the state budget proposal last Tuesday, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin proposed some major cuts to postsecondary education funding.

While the 9 percent decrease in state funding is yet to be approved, the 4.5 percent cutback will be implemented immediately by executive order. This means that WKU will have to cut $3.4 million from its operating budget by June 30.

The university will need to make up for these deep cuts, which will probably result in a tuition raise and negatively affect programs and departments all over campus. In spring 2013, the budget was reduced by about $2.1 million due to the Council on Postsecondary Education’s decision to limit the following fall semester’s tuition increase to 3 percent.

When this happened, programs like the Center of Excellence in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences were eliminated, and funding for the Talisman and computer replacement across campuses was reduced, according to the May 10, 2013 edition of the Herald. Now, the cuts will amount to over $1.3 million more than those made two years ago, which means more sacrifices.

These budget cuts at the state level make many feel as though postsecondary education is being put on the back burner. Bevin’s focus on workforce readiness seems to be turning the citizens of Kentucky into commodities that will be judged solely on their productivity.

While college does prepare students for the workforce, that isn’t its only purpose. College is a crucial period of growth for many young adults. We should be investing in creating well-rounded and educated citizens.

Nothing can be done about the coming 4.5 percent decrease, but hopefully the 9 percent won’t make it through the state House and Senate. Should Bevin’s budget pass, WKU could see disastrous impacts across the board. We should demand more of our legislature and our governor. If our Commonwealth’s leaders are serious about keeping Kentucky students in Kentucky, they should stop Bevin’s budget in its tracks. Otherwise, they send a message to Kentucky’s universities and students that they place little value in our postsecondary education.