University presidents ask lawmakers to consider impact of 'devastating' proposed budget cuts

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - As dozens of students protested Governor Matt Bevin’s proposed education cuts Thursday morning, two state university presidents asked lawmakers to consider the damage the cuts could cause.

A House subcommittee reviewing the budget, listened as the presidents for Morehead State University and Western Kentucky University testified about how the proposed budget cuts would threaten various aspects of their schools.

Top officials from the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University and Kentucky State University have already asked lawmakers to consider what could happen to public universities under the governor's proposal.

That proposal outlines a 4.5 percent spending cut for the rest of the fiscal year; the university cuts would increase to 9 percent over the next two years.

The governor says the slash in spending is needed if the state is going to start bailing the state out of its multi-billion dollar pension crisis.

Several university presidents say if the budget passes as is, students will see tuition hikes and employees will lose their jobs.

Murray State University students protesting outside the capitol tell WKYT that they are concerned that classes that some might consider non-essential, such as theatre and art, will also be cut.

WKU's president told committee members that the university's community services are most vulnerable because they have to protect tenured professors.

"Even the recession cuts paled in comparison to these cuts. When you deal with this level of cutting I have to protect the core curriculum," said president Gary Ransdell.

Students and school leaders are promising to continue pushing back against the proposed cuts as lawmakers continue reviewing the budget. They have until late April to approve the budget.

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