KY General Assembly approves 1.5 percent budget cut, funding of TCCW


After 18 hours of yelling matches, impassioned debates and give-and-take ideas, Kentucky legislators finally approved a budget that gave some financial concessions to state universities.

The new 1.5 percent budget cut to state universities and colleges will ease WKU’s financial difficulties $750,000, taking the whopping $1.8 million lost under Gov. Steve Beshear’s 2.5 percent cut to $1.05 million.

The biennial state budget has been a high-stakes game for WKU since it was laid out in late January in the governor’s budget address. With so much at risk, President Gary Ransdell said the budget’s progress over the weekend was tracked closely.

“There was a point in time I thought we’d get the full cut and keep the building it was really about the level of the cut and whether the capital projects would be funded or not,” he said. “It was back and forth… When the final budget came out early Monday morning, we were very pleased to learn that the capital projects would be funded. I would’ve liked for the entire cut to be erased, but that wasn’t the case.”

Robbin Taylor, Vice President for Public Relations, was in Frankfort for the entire legislative debate and said the outcome is equal parts relieving and frustrating.

“This is compromise that at least allows us to make significant progress… and certainly a 1.5 percent cut is better than 2.5 percent any day,” she said.

WKU also walked away with the $48 million needed to renovate Thompson Complex Central Wing, an item that was cut from the Senate’s budget proposal. No university capital projects have been funded by the state since 2006.

The only piece remaining in the legislative process is the potential for Beshear to issue a line-item veto on some aspect of the bill.

However, since concessions were made on both sides and the final budget aligned closely with the original proposal, Beshear might not exercise executive power.

“If the governor vetoes one aspect of the bill, I’ll be just as shocked and surprised as when he issued the 2.5 percent increase at the start,” Ransdell said. 

University officials now await the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s verdict on tuition increases. Ransdell said he expects a 4 to 5 percent increase for students, but 5 percent at the highest. The CPE’s next meeting is April 28.