Kentucky legislature agrees on biennial budget, universities still suffer cuts

Kentucky legislature agrees on biennial budget, universities still suffer cuts

Leaders from the Republican-controlled Kentucky Senate and Democratically controlled House reached a compromise on the biennial budget for the Commonwealth Monday night for the years 2014-2016.

The final $20.3 million budget, if approved by Gov. Steve Beshear, restores funding to a number of universities’ construction projects removed in the Senate’s draft of the budget and includes an across-the-board funding cut to state higher education. This compromise comes a week after the Senate released its counter-proposition to the House’s state budget.

With funding for universities’ top priority projects being maintained, Murray State will be able to go forward with construction of the Engineering and Physics Building, a new Breathitt Veterinary Center, the replacement of Franklin Residential College and construction of a Madisonville Postsecondary Education Center.

The 1.5 percent budget cut to state universities, 1 percent less than what was proposed by Beshear in his education address in January, will cost Murray State approximately $720,000. The proposed state budget also includes an unfunded mandated pension cost of $1.5 million for Murray State, half of which will be reimbursed to the University’s base allocation from the state.

In an email from President Tim Miller to the University, he said that even with the cuts already made to Murray State’s budget this year, additional revenue and cost reductions will be continued to be sought following the release of the Senate and House’s budget. However, Miller said he was happy with the decision to re-fund university projects.

“The news could not be any better about our capital projects which are significant and crucial to fulfilling the mission of Murray State University,” he said. “The 2014-16 biennium budget represents a record period in terms of Murray State capital construction projects.”

Miller said a final University budget for the Board of Regents will not be completed until the tuition cap for Kentucky universities from the Council on Post-Secondary Education is announced.

Story by Ben Manhanke, Assistant News Editor