Assistant News Editor
Gov. Steve Beshear gave his budget address on Tuesday, announcing several spending cuts across the state and a spending plan for $19.2 billion in the state General Fund’s two-year plan that will begin in July.
One of the cuts discussed is in public universities, which were suggested to see 6.4 percent cuts as of next year. Despite the cut, student’s financial aid will not be affected.
New bonds used for the repair of university buildings will equal $25 million, but general fund bonds are not appropriated for new university buildings.
The current budget funds $25 million to aid in the repair of university buildings but does not fund the building of any new structures.
Beshear’s proposed budget adds a 2 percent increase in health insurance for state and public school employees.
The proposal will travel to the House where it will be amended and approved and then to the Senate, where changes will also be made. The deadline for both the House and the Senate to pass Beshear’s plan is April 15.
Bob Jackson, vice president for Institutional Advancement, said though he is aware of the fiscal condition of the Commonwealth, he is disappointed in the cuts Beshear is proposing.
“The governor’s budget proposal is the first step in a long process of passing the state’s budget,” Jackson said via email.
Constantine Curris, chair of the Board of Regents and former University president, said he hopes to see the 6.4 percent budget cut proposed reduced if not altogether eliminated.
“This large an increase on top of the several state appropriation cuts made over the past few years would seriously impact Murray State University,” he said. “I speak for the entire Board in indicating that we strongly urge the General Assembly to accord higher education greater priority in the upcoming biennial budget.”
Based on the state appropriation, President Randy Dunn will propose a budget to the Board of Regents’ Finance Committee, Curris said.
“It would be premature to project how an appropriation cut of this magnitude would impact the University and the student body,” he said. “In previous budget cuts, the result has been higher tuition … as well as smaller staffing and fewer funds for important operating expense. No option is appealing.”
Though these cuts could have a direct, negative impact on the University, Curris said the administration will ensure the students are affected as little as possible.
Said Curris: “However, I am sure that if a reduction of this magnitude is imposed on the University, every effort will be made to minimize the damage inflicted on the University and especially upon the students we serve.”