WKU receives CPE support during budget deliberations


The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education made a firm statement against Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposed 2.5 percent budget cut to state universities. 

The CPE unanimously approved a resolution to send to the state legislature and the governor, which expressed a continued need to avoid a sizable cut to public universities. 

The resolution coincides with the WKU administration’s frequent commutes from Bowling Green to Frankfort to fight for funding. 

“According to national data, 40 states in the current fiscal year have increased state general fund support for higher education,” the resolution stated. “Kentucky is not among those states.”

Though the resolution commended the governor for maintaining financial support for the Bucks for Brains initiative, it made clear that one initiative wouldn’t be enough. 

“Kentucky’s economic future depends on a vibrant and well-trained workforce and educated citizenry,” the resolution stated. “However, this cannot be achieved without a renewed investment in our colleges and universities.”

Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Relations, said the CPE’s resolution and presentation effectively support the need for increased financial support from the state and echoes WKU’s position on the issue as well. 

However, with months of debate remaining between House subcommittees and the Senate, the end result of the CPE’s presentations cannot be foreseen, Taylor said. 

“While we have certainly received a lot of positive feedback from legislators with whom we’ve met, I’m not able to predict the outcome,” she said. 

Robert Staat, faculty representative to the CPE, forwarded materials pertaining to the resolution and other documents presented to the governor and the House Appropriations & Revenue Subcommittee to faculty senates statewide in an email. 

In the email, Staat encouraged Faculty Senate chairs, especially those of affected public universities, to “educate faculty members and staff about the negative impact of these proposed budget cuts and to advocate for a reinvestment in higher education.” 

A presentation from Robert King, president of the CPE, to the House Appropriations & Revenue Subcommittee detailed the myriad of financial burdens placed on universities if the budget passed. 

According to the presentation, anticipated fixed cost increases — such as health insurance, faculty retirement plans and financial aid — combined with the proposed budget reduction would leave state universities with an estimated $43.4 million shortfall, even with a 3 percent tuition increase. 

Since 2008, state spending per student decreased by roughly $2,800, requiring an estimated $449 million to return to pre-2008 spending, the presentation said. 

WKU has been vocal in its opposition of Beshear’s proposed budget, which the governor presented before a joint session in late January. Since then, the university has kept close tabs on all committee meetings involving the budget along with related bills, such as the minimum wage bill which recently passed the House. 

“I am, however, very pleased with the effort by the Council to advocate for us,” Taylor said. “It’s important that legislators hear the message as often and from as many as possible.”