Editorial: Prepare for tuition hikes



For a state that bleeds blue, the Bluegrass state showed its true colors Tuesday night when Republican candidate Matt Bevin was elected as the next governor.

Republicans rejoiced at the dismantling of Gov. Steve Beshear’s signature health care achievement, and imminent cuts in spending, which to students’ dismay will likely include higher education.

Bevin promised that if he were elected he would disband Kynect, the state’s health insurance market established under the Affordable Care Act.

Related: Kentuckians vote for change with Bevin

Kentucky had one of the highest rates of uninsured citizens before the act was implemented and is now considered one of its major successes.

If Bevin were to disband Kynect, it could threaten the health insurance coverage of thousands of Kentuckians. Counties that suffer economically will see benefits they depend on disappear.

And while the pension crisis seems like an irrelevant topic to many college students, increase in tuition is not. When Bevin’s promise to fund previous pensions and begin a 401(k) style contribution plan for future employees without increases in taxes hits the fan, it will likely cause the state to dip into discretionary funding.

“If those pensions suck up the resources that the state’s pulling in, you can expect the tuition for college students is going to get much worse,” associate professor of political science Stephen Voss said.

Related: Looking forward with Governor-Elect Matt Bevin’s proposed policies

Kentucky’s spending on higher education is almost 27 percent, which is higher than any other state. With less state funding toward scholarships and grants, universities will have no choice but to increase tuition.

“As long as they have no fear of students and their parents who are paying big tuition bills, they’re not going to respond, especially compared to the fear of raising taxes,” political science professor Donald Gross said.

If Bevin decided to let the pension crisis continue, the state could face bankruptcy and  students would suffer.

“It threatens our bond ratings, it threatens the state budget,” Voss said. “The policy area most likely to suffer is education, investment and beyond, and that includes higher education.”

If the state were to go bankrupt, UK’s credit score would be so abysmal any renovations or projects the university would undertake would come with increased interest rates that may end up being paid for by higher tuition rates.

[email protected]