CPE proposes budget

Mai Hoang

After five years filled with no new funding and budget cuts, Western may have a brighter outlook in the next fiscal year.

The Council on Post-Secondary Education announced Monday in Louisville its budget recommendation for the next biannual, awarding Western the largest percentage increase of any university in Kentucky.

The recommendation asks the state to provide Western with a $15 million state appropriation increase, or 21.3 percent, over the next two fiscal years.

Western’s state appropriation is currently $72 million for the 2004 fiscal year. The proposed budget would give the university $80.7 million in the 2005 fiscal year and $87.6 in the 2006.

Sandy Woodley, vice president for finance at the CPE, could not be reached for comment.

President Gary Ransdell said he is satisfied with the CPE’s recommendations and hopes the General Assembly will fully fund the request.

“It would provide significant relief,” he said.

Barbara Burch said fully funding the CPE’s budget request will help put a dent in the lack of state funding in past years. Western needs $42 million to deal with enrollment growth.

“It would be strong recognition of the amount of unfunded enrollment growth Western has built in the last five years,” she said.

The CPE also asked for $33 million to renovate the Thompson Complex and $500,000 for funding for the Kentucky Academy of Math and Science. There are several requests for state-matching money for Bucks for Brains at $2.3 million and deferred maintenance at $1.4 million.

The request also asked the state to authorize bonds for several of Western’s capital construction projects, including the Downing Univer-sity Center, South campus and Schneider Hall.

Ransdell said he and other administrators are trying to determine the best strategy to push the next governor and other legislators to fully fund the proposal.

“This gives us something to fight for, and this is very important,” Rans-dell said. “I want to encourage all Western students, faculty, staff and alumni to contact members our general assembly and encourage them to fund the higher ed budget in its entirety.”

Once the CPE submits the request to the budget office, the next governor will examine it and determine his budget.

Robbin Taylor, director of governmental relations, said the CPE’s budget request is one that can be defended well and reflects the needs of the state universities.

“It is a good budget request, it is ambitious, but it does recognize that there is a budget challenge,” she said. “It asks for those things that are significant and important. There are no frills in this budget.”

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]