UK will pursue full funding for Top 20

After the governor’s call for budget cuts across the state, UK will still ask for full funding of its Top 20 Business Plan.

“That’s part of the legislative process,” said UK spokesman Jay Blanton. “You don’t offer a trade until you have to make one.”

UK will have to plead its case to the legislature in the coming months for funding during the 2008-10 biennium. This year the university will ask the legislature for:

n A 6 percent increase in funding, about a $20 million increase, for each of the next two years.

n $130 million in state bonds for a second science research building, to be part of the new medical center.

n $75 million in state bonds for a new Gatton College of Business and Economics Complex, to be located on Euclid Avenue between North Campus and Memorial Coliseum.

n $20 million for a new Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center.

In his annual State of the Commonwealth Address on Monday night, Gov. Steve Beshear spoke on his call for Kentucky’s state agencies and public universities to undergo funding cuts across the board.

“It is my duty and my responsibility to inform you that we have some tough times ahead,” Beshear said in his address. “The revenue outlook is grim.”

Beshear called for a 3 percent cut in the budgets of state institutions and public universities for the fiscal year ending in June. He also advised the same organizations to prepare for a 12 percent budget reduction for the next fiscal year, about a $50 million loss for UK all together.

However, the governor’s budget recommendation on Jan. 29 will be just part of the process, Blanton said.

“The legislature has got to approve the budget too,” Blanton said. “We plan on presenting to both the governor and the legislature.”

Two of the projects UK will request funding for, the construction of the science research building and the Gatton College of Business and Economics Complex, are scheduled to be completed in 2012.

Without full bonding from the legislature this spring, it would be “impossible” to start construction, said Bob Wiseman, vice president for facilities management.

If UK doesn’t get the $205 million in bonds it needs for the two projects, the university will have to look at “any and all options” for funding, Wiseman said.

The new business and research building would accommodate the increase in faculty and staff mandated by the Top 20 Business Plan. The plan calls for adding 300 faculty members, for a total of  2,500, and for adding 7,000 students to total at 34,000 by 2020.

“If we don’t get the money for the Top 20 Business Plan, it makes it more challenging, but we’re going in with a lot of support in the legislature,” Blanton said.