While we were happy to see the House and Senate come to terms on a two-year budget without the need for an expensive special session, seeing that additional cuts to the state’s higher education institutions were included was difficult to bear.
Gov. Matt Bevin has already through executive order cut the budgets of colleges and universities by 4.5 percent, and while the legality of that action is currently being challenged in court it still has a negative impact on our state’s students.
Add another 4.5-percent cut on top of that, and the General Assembly has assisted in creating a problem that we will feel the repercussions of long after Bevin is out of office.
It’s no secret that — compared with other states in the country — Kentucky is a poor place. The fact that there is a lack of high-paying jobs for college graduates here has led to a problem anyone who has spent more than an hour on a college campus knows about: the brain drain.
Simply put, Kentuckians who graduate from colleges and universities are very likely to leave the state so they can be more successful somewhere else.
The problem is that in order for our commonwealth to change, we need graduates to remain here, growing local businesses and even starting some of their own to create a more competitive economic environment.
These cuts, however, pull the rug out from anyone who may aspire to do just that. By making it more expensive for our students to even get a degree, our state government has done two terrible things.
First, they’re actively discouraging the thousands of Kentuckians who may not be able to afford a college education from seeking one, essentially dooming them to low-income jobs in an economy that increasingly demands a bachelor’s degree as a minimum education requirement.
These are the very people state universities and colleges were created to serve, yet they’re the ones who are alienated by these cuts.
Secondly, the burden of debt students who do graduate with is only going to further encourage them to leave Kentucky in search of more money elsewhere.
So in one fell swoop the Governor, House and Senate have both discouraged some Kentuckians from seeking higher education in the first place and encouraged those who do graduate to leave the state just to pay their bills.
Fortunately our leaders can only set a budget two years at a time, but for now the damage has been done. We hope that in 2018 the decision makers in office will consider how these cuts have affected the entire state.
If we don’t work to educate our populace, Kentucky will continue to remain stagnant as the states around us grow.
— The State Journal, Frankfort