Democratic state Rep. Leslie Combs has filed legislation that calls for public funding for the University of Pikeville.
The long- anticipated measure was filed on Tuesday with House Speaker Greg Stumbo as co-sponsor.
Combs, who represents the Pikeville area in the House in addition to much of Letcher County, said the proposal is the legislature’s best shot at raising the college graduation rate in the Appalachian region.
Stumbo said Kentucky would be getting a good deal by investing about $12 million a year and getting more than $170 million worth of facilities that the private university would turn over to the state.
The funding would come from an existing tax on coal mined in the mountains of eastern Kentucky.
In a related matter, Gov. Steve Beshear has left revenue from a portion of the state’s coal tax unallocated in case lawmakers choose to create a new state university in Pikeville.
Beshear presented his two-year budget proposal to a joint session of the House and Senate on Tuesday evening.
He reminded lawmakers that he will hire a consultant to review whether the private University of Pikeville should be made a part of the state’s system of public universities.
That move would be funded with so- called “multi-county coal severance tax revenues.”