Gov. Steve Beshear‘s budget address may have been a wake-up call for those who didn’t think things were as bad as they seemed. For others, it may have been a realization that the bold leadership Beshear campaigned on was nothing but campaign rhetoric.
There will be a $165 million cut in spending next year, and it will hit most areas of the state, save K-12 education and Medicaid. Higher education may have been the hardest hit.
U of L chief James Ramsey told the C-J: “. . . it’s going to be impossible for us to continue to move forward, and the question becomes will we be able to keep from backsliding.” UK’s Lee Todd said it will create a $50 million shortfall. Of note, this comes the day after Todd hired a VP of diversity for $210,000 a year.
But Beshear’s speech was full of those sorts of contradictions. Drastically cut spending here, but make up for it with a questionable expenditure there.
Beshear presented nothing bold last night. He preserved the funding for public schools, but said there would be no raises for teachers. And he authorized 2 percent raises (not much, but more than teachers are getting) for state employees, and said nothing about cuts to the state work force. He preserved $6 million for the Louisville Zoo and many other capital projects, and put money into the Bucks for Brains programs, but told University presidents to get by with less.