The job for state lawmakers is where to trim fat and where to find money, in hopes of not hurting the one area that many see as the answer to Kentucky's economic and educational ills.
“You know I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Rep. Derrick Graham said in Thursday’s budget committee meeting. “Sick and tired in terms of not being able to do the right thing for the people of the Commonwealth.”
Dr. Lee Todd believes the right thing is leading the University of Kentucky to being a top 20 research institution. He says less state money puts the squeeze on that accomplishment.
“We have to cut scholarships, eliminate programs, reduce personnel and increase tuition,” Dr. Todd told committee members.
Right now, an in-state student pays more than $7,000 a year to attend UK. Just a 9% tuition hike increases that by $600. But many university presidents are talking double-digit tuition hikes.
University of Louisville President Dr. James Ramsey says they could have to raise tuition by 12%.
He also says cuts could impact the university’s investment to the massive UPS hub at Louisville International Airport.
And, Todd says agricultural programs in cooperative extension and major energy research programs are being threatened.
“If we did those things, which are pretty ugly, we'd still have to lay off 400 people,” said Todd.