Governor Steve Beshear’s proposed biennial budget includes investments for every community in the state, as well as multiple targeted investments for specific regions. Below is a list of the proposed investments for western Kentucky, including the cities of Hopkinsville, Madisonville and Paducah.
The most important investments in the proposed budget are in K-12 education. The largest item is SEEK, the main funding formula for classrooms. From 2000 to 2008, SEEK grew an average of 3.4 percent each year. But from 2008 to 2014, funding flatlined – even as enrollment expanded, costs increased and local support in some areas dropped. In effect, per-pupil spending went down, even though the annual SEEK allocation remained the same.
Gov. Beshear recommends investing $189 million over the biennium into SEEK, bringing per pupil spending to its highest total ever. This is an increase of 2.2 percent in Fiscal Year 2015, and an increase of 1.8 percent in FY16.
That allocation will include pay increases for all teachers and classified school personnel (2 percent the first year, 1 percent second year).
Gov. Beshear’s proposed education investments also include:
· $95.4 million over the biennium for textbooks professional development, school safety and Extended School Services (restoring funds to near-2008 levels)
· $36 million over the biennium to expand preschool services to serve 5,125 more 4-year-olds by increasing eligibility from 150 percent of the poverty level to 160 percent. This funding will allow more than 5,100 children to attend pre-school.
· $50 million for technology and school equipment upgrades, funded through in General Fund-supported bonds.
· $100 million for school facilities construction to replace aging K-12 school buildings through General Fund-supported bonds.
· $2 million for the AdvanceKY program over the two years to continue offering accelerated curriculum and expand program to 10 additional schools in rural areas.
· Expanding enrollment in the Governor’s Scholars Program and Governor’s School for the Arts, which nurture the brightest and most talented students in every county. Funding will cover 100 additional students for each program.
· $1 million each year to help build libraries in communities statewide.
Through General Fund supported bonds, Gov. Beshear’s proposed budget will invest $520.3 million in the highest-priority capital construction project of each four-year institution. These projects include new construction, renovation and maintenance projects.
· The proposal includes $31.9 million for Murray State University on the final phase of the science complex and on the construction of an 81,600-square-foot building for engineering and physics.
· The proposal includes $32.5 million to construct a new 52,891-square-foot veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Hopkinsville to meet the demands of animal diagnostics and teaching at Murray State University. The facility will replace the existing 45-year-old Breathitt Veterinary Center, which is in need of major renovations and is too small to accommodate the increasing diagnostic needs of the region and the growing academic programs.
The proposal also authorizes some $704 million in agency bonds for universities.
Agency bonds have zero impact on the General Fund and are to be paid back by identified revenue streams at the universities.
· $29 million to construct an 114,000-square-foot, 380 bed student housing facility to replace Franklin Hall at Murray State University. The project will be designed to complement the residential college concept of student housing/living.
Higher Education Investments through KCTCS Agency Bonds
The Governor’s agency bond plan also includes an historic $145.5 million proposal that represents the single-largest investment in the Kentucky Community and Technical College system since its formation.
The Governor recommends a plan proposed by the leaders at KCTCS – to allow these colleges to use agency bonds for the first time ever to fund 75 percent of the cost of 16 critical projects. The colleges themselves will fund the other 25 percent using more traditional funds and/or private funds gathered through fundraising campaigns.
“This is a perfect example of the public and private sectors working in concert, and KCTCS leaders say the debt service will not add to the cost of an education in any meaningful way,” Gov. Beshear said.
The projects include:
· $15 million to construct a 68,000-square-foot Postsecondary Education Center on the main campus of Madisonville Community College. The center will provide classroom and office space for use by Murray State University and Madisonville Community College. In addition, the new facility will support programs and services offered through distance learning. The facility will greatly increase the number of baccalaureate and graduate level degree programs offered in the Madisonville area, an area in Murray State University’s service region that has been historically underserved.
· $11.25 million for Hopkinsville Community College to construct a 55,000-square-foot Agriculture, Health and Career Technology Center. This project will provide additional growth opportunities for new allied health programs identified as needed in the region. In addition to new health programs, the facility will also house support labs in biology and chemistry. Flexible teaching areas with a large bay door, appropriate air handling equipment and oil disposal troughs will house agriculture programs, auto diesel, auto mechanics, welding and carpentry.
· $7.5 million for the Western Kentucky Community and Technical College/Paducah School of Art. This project will renovate a historical 25,000-square-foot facility to complete the Paducah School of Art. The facility will house classroom, studio, office and gallery space. Academic courses as well as master workshops will be conducted in drawing, painting, digital photography and graphic design.
Gov. Beshear proposes the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway, which includes $60 million in General Fund supported bonds to invest in high-speed Broadband capability throughout the state. An additional $40 million is planned from federal and private sources.
Two-thirds of the state’s investment would be supported by existing state expenditures set aside for Internet access. This is a critical need. Kentucky ranks 46th in broadband availability, and 23 percent of rural areas don’t have any access. This project is about speed and capacity to allow Kentuckians to attract high-tech, knowledge-based and information-intensive businesses.
· The Governor’s budget includes funds for the continuation of projects necessary to convert two parkways into the official Interstate 69 Corridor in western Kentucky. The new I-69 will eventually run from the Ohio River at Henderson to the Tennessee border at Fulton, incorporating parts of two other former toll roads – the Julian Carroll Purchase Parkway and the Edward T. Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway.
Given the financial pressures on the parks system, the Governor’s budget exempts state parks from the 5 percent budget cuts and sets aside $8 million in General Fund-supported bonds for maintenance and $5.5 million to upgrade guest accommodations.
· Land between the Lakes Bridges: Completion of the U.S. 68/Ky. 80 bridges at Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.