Governor Pushing for Major Education Funding; Damaging Cuts to Other Agencies

By Michael Gossum | 

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) -- Governor Steve Beshear D-Kentucky said this budget gives him both immense pride and intense regret.

"It makes damaging cuts in many areas in order to keep Kentucky at the forefront of educational attainment in this nation," said Beshear.

Beshear said funding education is a top priority, and in order to do that he is proposing 5% cuts to many agencies.

"However, we are exempting areas like classroom funding, public health, mental health, libraries, parks and programs that create jobs," said Beshear.

Tonight was good news for K-12 and early education.

"This budget allocates an additional $71 million in fiscal year '15 and $118 million in fiscal year '16 bringing per pupil spending to its highest total ever in our history," said Beshear.

However, higher education institutions including WKU would see a cut.

"Cutting higher education by 2.5%, I was not happy with that, especially with Western there," said Sen. Mike Wilson R-Bowling Green.

Both Sen. Wilson and Rep. Jim DeCesare R-Rockfield were pleased with aspects like boosting SEEK funding again, but DeCesare is worried about the amount of debt this budget has.

"$1.96 billion in new debt, you know that's a lot of money to comprehend. I mean that's almost 10% of the total budget if not more in new debt," said DeCesare.

The budget also calls for a 2% pay increase for teachers the first year, and a 1% increase the second year for all teachers and classified school personnel.

The Governor also wants to fund some specific projects here in the WBKO viewing area.

These include:
-Funding 80 more students at the Gatton Academy on the WKU campus.

-Funds for the science campus at WKU.

-A new classroom complex at south central KCTCS campus in Bowling Green.

-Six laning I-65 between Bowling Green and Elizabethtown will be a major priority.

-$2.7 million for a Veteran's nursing home in Radcliff.

Now, the budget will go to the House and then to the Senate for review.

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