Kentucky's newly elected governor, Matt Bevin, had to make some tough budget cuts in order to rescue the state's underfunded - really, really underfunded - like $30 billion underfunded - retirement system. Almost all state agencies will feel the pain, with the exception of statewide K-12 education and Kentucky State University in Frankfort. University and college budgets will be cut 4.5 percent over the next two years, down from Bevin's proposed cut of 9 percent. The funding bill does not address the governor's 4.5 percent cut to higher education in the current fiscal year, which is being left for the courts to decide. (Apparently, it is illegal to act without legislative approval.) Budget cuts are nothing new to BCTC, higher education has been cut every single year since 2008. Every single Kentucky college student has been impacted, from escalating tuition rates to reductions in state-funded financial aid. That's the bad news.
But, there is some good news, too. In a compromise to the 4.5 percent cut, the legislature voted to fund a new scholarship program for students seeking 2-year college degrees. This "Work Ready" tuition aid program will make up the difference in student's financial need and their financial aid, essentially providing a free community college education.
Governor Bevin may veto any or all of the funding bill, but given the time-sensitive nature of the bill, it is unlikely he will. Lawmakers have one day left in the regular session to pass the budget or face a costly special session.