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Report: State Department Told To Prepare "Worst Case" Budgets

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Public universities and community colleges, along with other state agencies, could face major budget cuts in the next fiscal year.

State Budget Director Mary Lassiter and interim President Brad Cowgill of the Council on Postsecondary Education said Gov. Steve Beshear's administration is warning that state agencies may have up to 12 percent less money beginning July 1.

That reduction would be in addition to a 3 percent cutback now under way for the last half of the state's current fiscal year.

Education leaders warn that such cuts may lead to major tuition increases, reduced or eliminated programs, and layoffs.

Lassiter and Cowgill confirmed the magnitude of the cuts in interviews with the Lexington Herald-Leader on Sunday.

A 12 percent cut would amount to nearly $169 million less for universities and community colleges over two years, Cowgill said.

Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell said the cuts would be "devastating" to progress Kentucky has made since its higher education reforms in 1997.

Cowgill said an additional cut of up to 12 percent would be a "wrecking ball" to a campaign to double the number of college graduates in Kentucky by 2020.

University of Kentucky spokesman Jay Blanton said "a cut of this magnitude is almost unimaginable. There can be no question that, if enacted, it would seriously compromise and damage the university's ability to move forward."

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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