Ky. to cut funding

Northern Kentucky University is facing a loss of more than $8 million in the budget that Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear proposed to the General Assembly Jan. 29. That has prompted the university to examine ways to balance its budget, including tuition hikes.

“We are going through the budget line-by-line and asking, ‘what does this contribute education,'” NKU President James Votruba said. The loss in funding would be $8.2 million, and NKU would have to balance that deficit with either spending cuts or increased income.

One aspect that would be curbed, Votruba said, is growth. He said that several high demand programs, such as nursing, information systems, finance and some sciences, would face a cap on enrollment if the governor’s budget is passed.

Tuition, he said, would also “certainly” go up.

“If we kept tuition at the current cost, which is what most students and myself would want, it would mean more part-time faculty, much larger class sizes and less availability of educational assistance for students,” he said.

Votruba traveled to Frankfort Jan. 31 to plead his case to the Council on Post-Secondary Education. He will make another trip Feb. 6 and is planning more, to convince legislators that cutting education funding is the wrong way to go.

Student Government President Alyse Bender said that the cuts would affect not just NKU, but many of its projects, including construction.

“It’s going to affect everybody,” she said.

Votruba pointed out that the reductions will also weaken the community as, without the extra funding, NKU will be hard pressed to achieve its Vision 2015 goal. According to the plan, NKU will help generate 20,000 new college-level jobs in Northern Kentucky.

“This budget will prevent us from doing that,” Votruba said.

Nevertheless, the cuts, though steep, were not unexpected, Bender said.

She is organizing a student lobbying event for the first week of February to combat the cuts. She said that contacting the Kentucky representatives to tell them not to cut funding may help prevent the cuts.

Votruba remains confident that the spending decreases will eventually reduce, noting that the proposal is only the first step, and that legislators can alter it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.