Beshear proposes funding cuts to Kentucky public universities

Gary Ransdell mug


Gov. Steve Beshear proposed a 2.5 percent budget cut to Kentucky public universities in his 2014 budget address Tuesday night.

If passed, the proposed budget cut could mean up to $2 million lost for WKU’s budget for the fiscal years of 2014-2016.

“This was one of the most difficult choices made in this entire budget, because higher education deserves more support, not less,” Beshear said in his address to the Kentucky General Assembly. “But honestly there is simply no way to create enough money to make the needed investments in pre-K through 12th grade, unless higher education is included in the reductions.”

The governor recommended 5 percent reductions in several departments, however held university reductions to 2.5 percent. If approved, this means funding for Kentucky higher education reduced by nearly 17 percent over the course of six years.

Beshear said the budget exempts student financial aid from the cuts.

Despite WKU receiving less money from the state, Beshear mentioned increased funding through bonds to The Carol Martin Gatton Academy, enough to provide 80 new spots to the high school which resides on the university’s campus.

Funding Kentucky education was the first item Beshear addressed and spent the most time discussing in the speech.

“It is a plan that, to be honest, fills me with immense pride and with intense regret,” Beshear said. “It makes damaging cuts in many areas in order to keep Kentucky at the forefront of educational attainment in this nation.” 

President Gary Ransdell hoped Beshear would avoid further cuts, especially given the governor’s commitment to “cradle-to-career education” mentioned in his State of the Commonwealth address two weeks ago.

“The key would be if the General Assembly could come together and identify new revenue streams,” Ransdell said, referencing tax reform and gaming laws.

Beshear indicated that the budget proposed focused on the current economic state, and briefly addressed proposed measures of bringing in money through tax reforms and expansion of gaming laws.

In addition to K-12 teachers and certified personnel receiving a cumulative 3 percent pay increase, Beshear proposed an $18 million increase per year to preschool services.

Outside of education, Beshear proposed further increases to infrastructure projects, such as completing the road construction between Bowling Green and Elizabethtown.

The budget, if passed, will take effect July 1, 2014.