Bevin’s budget threatens higher education


All eyes were on Republican Gov. Matt Bevin Tuesday night as he unveiled his first proposed budget to the Kentucky General Assembly. The proposal revealed baseline cuts of 9 percent to state spending, with exemptions to a few state funding recipients, including K-12, state police, social workers and Medicaid.

The budget would increase spending by more than $5 million toward curbing heroin abuse, an admirable move in a state where heroin overdoses are plaguing emergency rooms.

Bevin also increased funding for state advocacy centers, which provide counseling and resources for victims of abuse and neglect. Kentucky has one of the highest rates of child abuse, so it is right to allocate more funds to this division of state government.

However, if Bevin is serious about getting young college students out of their parents’ basements, as he said in his speech, then cutting higher education is not the way to go.

In the past, public universities like UK have raised tuition after cuts from state government. In 2014, UK increased tuition 5 percent after a 1.5 percent cut to higher education. 

Student financial aid was exempt from spending cuts, but only time will tell if this will compensate for potential future tuition hikes.

And though it might seem like beating a dead horse, there is no logic or reason behind Bevin’s dismantling of Kynect. It is widely regarded as the most successful example of a state establishing its own exchange under the Affordable Care Act, and it allows Kentucky citizens to enroll in insurance at a lower fee than the federal exchange.

As Bevin said in his speech, the nearly 100,000 Kentuckians who enrolled in Kynect will still have insurance; they will simply default to the federal exchange. Ultimately, they will pay a 3.5 percent fee on insurance plans rather than a 1 percent fee. Bevin’s motivation for dismantling Kynect can only be for ideological purposes.

Admittedly, Bevin has very little room to work with considering the state’s pensions system crisis (which is estimated to cause a $500 million shortfall). College students and low-income Kentuckians might be in for a few tough years if the proposal passes.

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