In his seventh state of the Commonwealth address, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told lawmakers that he will seek to reinvest in education, while also urging the General Assembly to reform the state's tax code.
The nearly 50-minute speech touched upon a variety of topics, including the state’s implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, gains in auto manufacturing and the implementation of new education standards.
In stressing his latest priority, Beshear said that he would make cuts to other programs in order to reinvest in education. To make up some of the funds, the governor pleaded with lawmakers to act on tax reform this year.
“I realize that tax modernization is a sensitive topic, especially in an election year. But the people elected us to tackle difficult issues. So engage with me. I ask you to engage with me on a core weakness that is keeping the Commonwealth from reaching its potential.”
Beshear offered few details on the kind of changes he wants to see in the tax code.
After the speech, Senate President Robert Stivers said he will need specifics in order to have a discussion on the issue.
Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring legislation that would raise the state's minimum wage. House Bill 1 would raise the rate from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour over three years.
Stumbo says the increase is needed to keep wages in line with inflation, and would help struggling working-class families across the Commonwealth.
“There needs to be something done to help level the playing field for people who work for minimum wage,” said Stumbo. “It needs to be raised, it’s not been raised since 2009, it’s been eroded obviously by inflation and cost-of-living, so, you’re gonna hear us talk about issues that deal with real, live, working Kentucky families, and try to make their lives easier and better.”
With a full time job, $7.25 an hour brings in $15,000 a year. Stumbo says that's not enough, and his raise would give full-time minimum wage workers about $21,000 a year.
“There’s been studies that show that small business owners agree that raising the minimum wage stimulates the economy, it makes for a better workplace.”
Republican Senate President Robert Stivers has indicated he would not support the plan.
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says he wants to pump more money into education and is willing to make budget cuts elsewhere to free up the money.
The governor also says he'll urge lawmakers to consider expanded gambling and a state tax overhaul in the General Assembly session that begins in January. But he won't include any assumed revenue from gambling or tax changes in the budget plan he presents to lawmakers.
Beshear talked to reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday about his priorities for the upcoming legislative session.
The governor listed education as his top priority and said he's determined to put more money into education.
He says the state risks losing its progress in education unless it reinvests money in schools.
Beshear didn't mention any specifics about possible budget cuts but said "everything is on the table."
A non-partisan economic policy group has released a report showing large gaps in per-student funding among school districts that approved tax increases this year.
A majority of Kentucky school boards approved the maximum 4 percent property tax increase to help fund public schools. The state hasn’t raised per-pupil funding for a number of years.
The Kentucky Center for Economic Policy report shows that some districts like Southgate Independent Schools in northern Kentucky will receive an additional $200 more per student through property taxes. While other counties like Bath County, in eastern Kentucky, will only receive $24 more per student.
“One of the consequences of that is that we’re going to make the gap between rich and poor schools even larger," said Jason Bailey, Director of the Center for Economic Policy.
Several school boards have joined Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday in calling on lawmakers to restore state education funding to pre-recession levels.
WKU and area school systems are teaming up to combine athletics and academics. The Lady Hilltoppers game against Georgia State on Jan. 8 will be attended by more than 2,100 students in grades K through 8 from Bowling Green Independent Schools, and schools in Glasgow and Logan County.
The effort is the third "Spread the Red Education Game" to be held at WKU.
Teachers in the schools are using historical statistics and biographical information on the WKU players as learning tools by incorporating them into history, reading, math, and geography lessons. Bowling Green Superintendent Joe Tinius says another benefit of the effort is getting young children on a college campus.
"Whenever we bring students to campus, we will always have many of them talk about how they had never been there before, and that they didn't know that a particular building was in Bowling Green. And that's a little hard for some of us to understand, and comprehend," Tinius said. "But I think as an educator it makes me realize that we need to take advantage of every opportunity to get our kids on campus."
Originally published on Tue December 3, 2013 12:13 pm
American 15-year-olds continue to turn in flat results in a test that measures students' proficiency in reading, math and science worldwide, failing to crack the global top 20.
The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world's most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.
The president of WKU is on the list of speakers at a forum on rising student debt being held by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
WKU President Gary Ransdell is in Missouri Monday for the event titled “Generation Debt: The Promise, Perils, and Future of Student Loans”.
According to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average student debt per follower grew from $16,000 in 2005, to $25,000 in 2012. The College Board found that an estimated 66 percent of seniors graduating in 2011 had student loan debt.
Economic and education analysts are increasingly worried that the growing debts faced by college graduates will impair the upward mobility of young Americans.
Monday’s forum on student debt is being webcast live from St. Louis, beginning at 12:30 pm central. You can see that webcast here.
Kentucky’s minority and low-income college students continue to graduate at lower rates than their peers.
In its upcoming annual accountability report, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education is expected to show that while college graduation rates increased between 2011 and 2012, a significant gap in those rates persisted for underrepresented minority and low-income students.
Other highlights of the report include an uptick in college readiness, a decline in GED attainment and “lost ground” in the areas of college funding and affordability.
The council will release a finalized version of the report “in the near future.”
A group representing nearly all of Kentucky's school districts is planning a study that could show lawmakers that school funding needs to be restored.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the Council for Better Education is raising money for the $130,000 study, which could begin Dec. 1.
Council president Tom Shelton says the study would design an equitable and adequate funding system to allow all students to become college- and career-ready.
The SEEK program, the primary source of money for school districts, has remained flat while schools have seen increases in the number of students and average daily attendance figures. That caused the amount of funding per student to slip from $3,866 in 2009 to $3,827 this year.
Flexible focus funds -- which include textbooks, preschool and staff development -- also have dropped.
Kentucky has again posted above-average reading results in the latest release from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the Nation’s Report Card.
This year, education officials are celebrating the inclusion of more special needs students than ever before.
The NAEP test gives a snapshot of 4th and 8th grade student performance in math and reading every two years. Kentucky has previously been criticized for excluding more students with special needs than schools the national average.
“The exclusion rates do have an impact on test scores, the more kids you exclude the higher your scores are going to be because most of the kids who are in that region of either being excluded or not being excluded are lower scoring students," said University of Virginia research professor David Grissmer, a member of the NAEP Validity Panel.