Area Lawmakers Don't Want Another Public University

By Michael Gossum | 

This isn't the first time this issue has come up, but it's once again gaining discussion.

Speaker Stumbo, a democrat from Prestonsburg wants another option for eastern Kentucky kids, but lawmakers in our area said this isn't the time for another university to be added.

"Speaker Stumbo's intentions are in the right place, but his timing couldn't be more off. When we're having trouble funding the university's that we have in the system now, to add another mouth to feed, so to speak, is just not the right thing to do at this time," said Rep. Jim DeCesare (R) 21st District.

Stumbo wants to add another university to Kentucky's system, the University of Pikeville.

This would give the state nine schools.

"We need to focus on funding our universities we have in the system as best as possible, and then when things get better, look at maybe adding UPike into the system," said DeCesare.

Stumbo said he wants to make things more affordable for eastern Kentucky students.

However, one lawmaker said he's worried about what this would do to schools already in the system like WKU.

"I do have some worries about that. As you know, I'm a western graduate, and proud to be a Hilltopper. Not only how it would affect Western, but the other state schools that are already in the system too. I think it has a significant chance of over time and over the long run hurting the funding levels for those already established schools, western being one of those," said Rep. Michael Meredith (R) 19th district.

The idea was pushed last year by former Gov. Paul Patton, but it did not pass however there was increased funding for scholarships.

Now, lawmakers say they have big issues to deal with like pension reform.

"Our pensions are so underfunded, we're going to have to come up with a way to deal with those. That's even a secondary issue to adding UPike because all those employees at UPike will go into the pension system," said DeCesare.

So, for right now, it appears it won't happen this year, but many say it come up again for discussion.

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