Last night the Kentucky Senate enacted their version of the state budget for 2014-16 that includes provisions for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). There were two key elements in the Senate budget that are of great concern to KCTCS.
The first area of concern is with our base funding appropriation. KCTCS was singled out by the Senate to receive a 2.5% budget cut while the eight public universities did not receive a cut. The proposed reduction of $4.8 million in the KCTCS operating budget will have a negative impact on KCTCS and will curtail our momentum in meeting the needs of students and business and industry. KCTCS is asking that the 2.5% budget cut be restored.
The second area of concern involves the Senate language inserted in the budget bill that relates to the KCTCS BuildSmart Investment in Kentucky Competitiveness that authorizes KCTCS to issue agency bonds to fund the top capital project at each of the 16 KCTCS colleges. This statewide initiative will make a major impact on our capacity to offer high quality facilities for our students and the communities we serve. The language proposed by the Senate greatly interferes with the governing authority of the KCTCS Board of Regents and creates inequities between and among the 16 KCTCS colleges that will negatively impact their ability to construct/renovate facilities on their campuses to meet the needs of students and business and industry. KCTCS is asking that the Kentucky General Assembly enact the House version of KCTCS BuildSmart rather than the Senate version.
As a key KCTCS stakeholder, we are asking for your help in communicating with the leadership of the House of Representatives that conveys the KCTCS position on these issues in the state budget.
Please click on the TAKE ACTION NOW button to send our message to Frankfort. Thank you for your ongoing support of KCTCS and for your advocacy on our behalf.
The president of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System said Tuesday he is “shocked” that the Senate’s proposed state budget maintains a 2.5 percent budget cut for the system while restoring money for state universities.
The Senate also proposed new restrictions that threaten an ambitious building program proposed for community colleges statewide, said KCTCS President Michael McCall, “I was shocked,” McCall said. “We felt very comfortable with the House version, and we would like to know why we are being singled out.”
The House version of the two-year, $20 billion budget cut operating funds for all state universities by 2.5 percent, but approved several major building projects on campuses around the state, including at least one project at each of 16 colleges operated by KCTCS.
We hope we’re wrong, but it sure seems like efforts to fund the Advanced Technology Center at Owensboro Community & Technical College could be derailed — once again — by partisan politics.
State Sen. Joe Bowen laid the groundwork for this possibility recently when he suggested that some legislators see the plan to raise money for the building through an $8-per-credit-hour fee as a “tax increase” on students. Bowen is supportive of the project, but if he’s tossing that idea out in public, he’s certainly heard it more than once behind closed doors with Senate colleagues.
And sure enough, when it came time for the House to vote on its proposed budget Thursday, the “tax increase” on students was a popular talking point. “We continue to cut, but yet we’ve got all of these projects and buildings,” said Rep. Jeff Hoover, the Republican Floor Leader in the House.
Friday afternoon, state Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, was still undecided about a proposed state budget item that would raise tuition on students. By Monday morning, he reluctantly decided to support it.