Story by Kayla Harrell, News Editor
FRANKFORT, Ky. – About 200 students from public universities across the state – more than half from Murray State – gathered in Frankfort Thursday to voice opposition against Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts.
“The amount of people from Murray is really amazing,” said Tori Story, senior from Murray. “We had to be up so early and come so far.”
Students marched toward the Kentucky State Capitol, held signs protesting the budget cuts and chanted their opposing views. Some of the dozens of signs included phrases such as “Cut the bull, not the budget,” “Where’s the humanity for my humanities?” and “Ignorance is more expensive than education.”
“It is a march of ideals for my generation,” said Jordan Fuentes, senior from Fairdealing, Kentucky. “To take back our education. To take a stand for those that plan to attend any form of higher education.”
Although the march halted on the steps of the Capitol Annex, the students were far from the end of their protest. Shouts of “Education matters; save our schools” rose from the crowd. A few students stepped forward to give speeches about their stories and potential effects of budget cuts on them and their schools.
Carter Hearne, senior at large from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, spoke on the meaning behind the peaceful protest.
“This is not for those here now or those that helped organize it,” Hearne said. “This is for the people still in high school and middle school and have passions in public speaking and the arts. We should not have to pick and choose what we want to do.”
Meanwhile, the public university presidents, including Murray State President Bob Davies, met with House Democratic leaders and the House budget committee chairman, Rep. Rick Rand, D-Bedford, to discuss the proposed cuts and plead their views on it.
Rand’s committee is in the process of restructuring the two-year Kentucky state budget that Bevin proposed in January. Bevin’s plan calls for a 4.5 percent cut to public universities before June 30 and another 9 percent cut next year.
Rand told The News the main points the presidents delivered included:
- The cuts will be devastating,
- It will increase tuition substantially,
- They described what the previous cuts have already done to their universities
- And described what the new cuts will add to it.
Rand said Kentucky State’s president, Raymond Burse, said in the meeting, if the cuts go through, it could shut down the university.
The House budget committee is expected to unveil its budget proposal in early March and send the spending bill to the state Senate.
For more on the budget and the activism of Murray State students, check out the March 3 edition of The Murray State News.