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.
President Tim Miller said that even with the cuts already made to Murray State’s budget this year, additional revenue and cost reductions will continue to be sought following the release of the Senate and House’s budget.
Miller did acknowledge that the University will have to raise tuition this year.
However, Miller said he was happy with the decision to re-fund university projects.
“We’re going to he able to replace Franklin, which is tremendous because I stayed there when I?came to the University in 1963.” Miller said. “We’re out there recruiting hard for students and we’ve got to have decent housing.”
Miller said Murray State will have more construction projects than it’s ever had at one time.
“We’re going to be busy and campus is going to be busy with construction next year,” he said.
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