Kentucky’s two largest universities are facing grim futures with more budget cuts planned for the coming years. But the schools' presidents say they can survive. University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and University of Louisville President James Ramsey addressed the Senate Education Committee today. They did not attempt to talk their way out of proposed 6.4 percent budget cuts. Instead, both men talked highly of their current programs and their ability to survive past budget cuts.
Kentucky's universities have been cut 11 times in the last decade. And Capilouto says UK’s top priority is to protect students as much as possible.
“And that’s going to be our guidepost as we go through these tough choices and they will be tough choices,” he said.
But he has not ruled out raising tuition and reducing scholarships.
Ramsey, a former state budget director, says he's not surprised the cuts continue, since Kentucky’s General Fund relies almost entirely on employment taxes.
“And you can see what happened at the beginning of the national recession in late 2007 and 2008," Ramsey said. "It’s like the lights were turned down. And 120,000 people in our state lost their job. And so from that point on we in higher education are now with the recommended budget you have before you ready to take our sixth budget cuts.”
Ramsey says layoffs may be necessary to absorb the 6.4 percent cuts in the governor's budget proposal.