Higher Education

WKU

The Western Kentucky University Finance and Budget Committee has agreed to send the full Board of Regents a proposed spending plan that increases student tuition and fees, as well as employee salaries.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would increase undergraduate tuition by four-percent, and add $50 to the online course fee assessed to full-time students.

Western Kentucky University is once again in wait-and-see mode.  The school has announced plans to trim its budget by an additional $16 million. 

State budget cuts and increased pension obligations have already forced the elimination of 119 positions to help make up for a $15 million budget shortfall.

Staff Regent Tamela Smith says the reductions have affected morale and placed more responsibilities on remaining employees.

"You've taken on more work, probably without any additional compensation. You're having to do more, and in some cases, learn new skills even," Smith told WKU Public Radio. "The people that remain, it's very hard on them for a variety of reasons. You can't not be concerned about your job at this point."

WKU Public Affairs

A rally for higher education is being held on Western Kentucky University’s campus Thursday afternoon.

It’s an event being coordinated with other universities in the state, which are planning to hold similar rallies.

The rally at WKU is being organized by several groups, including the Department of Sociology and Criminology, Queer Student Union, Transgender Non-Binary Student Group, and Center for Citizenship and Social Justice.

Rhonda J. Miller

Western Kentucky University revealed its recommended plan today on how it might confront a $15 million budget shortfall, plus increased pension contributions and reduced state funding.  

WKU President Timothy Caboni told the Board of Regents that the necessary financial cuts require the most painful decision a university leader must make – cutting five percent of the faculty and staff of about 2,000 employees.              

“We’ll significantly reduce the size of our workforce at WKU," said Caboni. "We’ve captured approximately 40 vacant positions through our hiring slowdown we implemented last fall. An additional 90-to-100 positions will be eliminated this spring.”


WKU

The president of Western Kentucky University says the school will work in the coming weeks and months to improve its outcome in the next two-year state budget.

In a statement to media Wednesday, Timothy Caboni said the budget outlined Tuesday night by Governor Bevin would amount to a $4.6 million funding reduction for WKU.

The spending plan also eliminates $750,000 that is used to fund the Kentucky Mesonet at WKU.

Kentucky Governor: Cut College Programs that Don't Pay Off

Sep 13, 2017
J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Matt Bevin bluntly suggested Tuesday that some academic programs on Kentucky's college campuses have outlived their necessity in times of tight state budgets.

With a pointed jab at the job prospects of interpretive dancers, the Republican governor challenged public university boards and presidents to consider eliminating some courses that don't produce graduates filling high-wage, high-demand jobs.

His message comes as the state tries to fix its failing public pension systems, and economists estimate Kentucky faces a $200 million shortfall when the fiscal year ends in mid-2018.

It's a fall tradition: Students don college sweatshirts and their parents, meanwhile, sweat the tuition bills.

One flash-in-the-pan movie this summer even featured a couple, played by Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, who start a casino to cope with their kids' college costs.

Annual tuition hikes have been pretty much a given in higher ed, but recently, there are signs that the decades-long rise in college costs is nearing a peak.

Board OKs Tuition Increases at Most Kentucky Universities

Jun 16, 2017
Creative Commons

The average cost of a four-year degree in Kentucky will be more than $39,000 this fall after state regulators approved tuition increases at most of the state's public universities.

All but two schools asked for the maximum increase allowed by the Council on Postsecondary Education. The University of Louisville did not raise tuition, and Kentucky State University's board of trustees has not had a meeting yet to ask for an increase.

It is the second time regulators have approved tuition increases since Republican Gov. Matt Bevin cut the budgets for most public colleges and universities. Bevin said the cuts, about $40 million, were necessary to help the state cope with a multibillion-dollar public pension debt. And this year, state economists predict the state will finish the fiscal year with a $113 million shortfall.

WKU

Kentucky's public colleges and universities would have to compete with each other for shrinking state tax dollars under a bill that has cleared the state Senate.

Senate Bill 153 would divide up more than $1 billion in state tax dollars to public colleges and universities based on a new formula, which would reward institutions for awarding more degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. Other criteria include the number of degrees awarded to low-income and minority students, total enrollment and campus size.

The formula would only apply to 5 percent of state funding next year. But after that, all state funding would be awarded based on the new formula. The bill would phase in spending cuts over the next four years.

The bill now heads to the state House of Representatives.

WKU

Kentucky’s public and private colleges and universities awarded a record number of degrees during the 2015-16 academic year.

A report from the Council on Postsecondary Education says Kentucky’s higher education institutions conferred 65,829 degrees--a 2.7 percent increase over the previous year.

The number represents a 32.5 percent increase over the amount of degrees awarded over ten years in the commonwealth.

Murray State and Morehead State had the highest increase in bachelor degree production, with the schools awarding 12 percent more degrees in the 2015-16 academic year. The University of Kentucky conferred 4 percent more.

Western Kentucky University saw a four percent increase in that same time.

Over the past decade, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System saw a 49 percent increase in the number of associate degrees it awarded.

Thinkstock

A court has ordered the release of $18 million back to Kentucky’s state colleges and universities after the state Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin’s mid-year cuts to higher education were illegal.

The $18 million, which will be released by Thursday, has been held in an escrow account since Attorney General Andy Beshear challenged Bevin’s executive order cutting higher education funding by 2 percent.

Though the state Supreme Court ruled last month that Bevin didn’t have the authority to cut funding that had already been budgeted by the legislature, the $18 million was in limbo while the court waited to see if Bevin would request for a the case to be heard again.

Bevin announced he would not seek another hearing of the case last week, and on Friday, the governor and attorney general agreed to release the funds back to state colleges and universities.

Bevin ordered the 2 percent mid-year cuts after negotiations for the two-year budget this spring to free up money for the state’s ailing pension systems. Higher education was cut by 4.5 percent in the two-year budget and most other state agencies and programs were cut by 9 percent.

J. Tyler Frankin

Gov. Matt Bevin has not asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling against his mid-year cuts to higher education institutions. That means about $18 million in state funds that Bevin had cut are a step closer to being released to Kentucky’s state colleges and universities.

Last month, the state’s highest court ruled that Bevin didn’t have the authority to reduce the allotment that the state had already budgeted to give to higher education institutions.

Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s press secretary, said that Bevin still believes the court “erred in its decision” in the lawsuit, which was brought on Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.

“This was a bad decision for Kentucky and the ramifications from Attorney General’s political lawsuit could be significant,” Stamper said. “Moody’s called the decision a ‘credit negative’ for Kentucky because it limits Governor Bevin’s ability to manage difficult budget scenarios in light of Kentucky’s $35 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.”

J. Tyler Frankin

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin does not have the authority to make mid-year cuts to state university budgets if the state isn’t experiencing a shortfall.

In a 5-2 ruling, the state’s high court declared that Bevin exceeded his authority by issuing an executive order cutting last fiscal year’s fourth quarter higher education allotment by $18 million.

“Whatever authority he might otherwise have to require a budget unit not to spend appropriated funds does not extend to the Universities, which the legislature has made independent bodies politic with control over their own expenditures,” the majority opinion stated.

The court reversed an earlier opinion by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate, which said that Bevin had authority to unilaterally cut the budgets of state colleges and universities because they are part of the state’s executive branch, which Bevin is the head of.

The opinion stated that Bevin does have the authority to make mid-year budget cuts if the state experiences a budget shortfall of 5 percent or more, however the commonwealth experienced a surplus last fiscal year.

Youtube

The president of the University of Kentucky says he’s confident higher education leaders will be able to finalize a performance-based funding model.

The state’s publicly supported colleges and universities are working on a plan to base a percentage of each school’s funding on certain metrics. The plan was ordered by Governor Matt Bevin.

UK President Eli Capilouto says degree productivity is a measure he thinks will play a big role in determining performance-based funding.

“I personally believe that the degree is the most important outcome, and funding should follow our success in awarding a degree,” Capilouto told WKU Public Radio during an interview Thursday.

ky.gov

Kentucky's Republican governor and Democratic attorney general are preparing to take their dispute over state funding for public colleges and universities to the state's highest court.

The state Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Steve Beshear over Gov. Matt Bevin's decision to reduce the allotments of the state's public colleges and universities.

Beshear says the state legislature controls state spending, and Bevin's order reducing the institutions' allotments by $17.8 million was illegal because lawmakers didn't approve it.

Bevin argues lawmakers give money to state agencies and the governor, as the state's chief executive, can order some of those agencies not to spend all of it. A state judge ruled in Bevin's favor in May.

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