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Two NKU Building Projects Would Benefit from Beshear Budget Proposal

Two capital projects at Northern Kentucky University would benefit in Governor Andy Beshear's two-year budget proposal announced Monday.

The governor said that his proposal represents the highest funding increase for higher education in Kentucky in decades, a nearly 12 percent increase.

He said that around $250 million had been cut from the general fund to the detriment of eight state universities and the community college system from 2008 to 2020.

“Past budget cuts have led to tuition increases and cutbacks,” Beshear said. “Restoring a significant share of past budget cuts will better position these institutions to graduate the world-class thinkers that our world-class companies and opportunities demand.”

Part of his proposal includes funding through agency bonds and third-party donations, construction of nineteen new university capital projects.

Among them are the expansion of the Herrmann Science Center and the second phase of renovations to the Fine Arts Building at NKU.

According to Beshear's announcement, the Science Center project would benefit from nearly $80 million in agency bonds for its expansion, while the Fine Arts Building would benefit from $45 million in agency bonds.

Another top priority for postsecondary education, according to the governor's budget, is paying down the debt of deferred maintenance for nine postsecondary institutions.

“We can’t let our schools crumble,” said Beshear. “My budget includes $500 million from the general fund, the first significant funding for this in twenty years.”

The governor’s budget also includes $60 million for the Bucks for Brains program to be matched dollar-for-dollar with private donations. Bucks for Brains helps the state support the economy by aligning postsecondary education with emerging needs of business and industry. These funds also help students prepare for employment and nurture an entrepreneurial climate, an announcement said.

Beshear's proposal also increases the maximum award aid programs, the College Access Program (CAP) and the Kentucky Tuition Grant program to assist students in need.

Both of these programs have benefitted from the dedication and growth of Kentucky Lottery receipts in the past several years, an announcement said. By leveraging federal Pell Grant dollars, the CAP program now covers full-time tuition and fees at KCTCS and nearly covers the average tuition and fees at four-year institutions, Beshear said.

With additional general fund dollars, the governor is increasing the maximum CAP award to $3,100 and $3,300 in fiscal years 2023 and 2024, while continuing to fund all eligible applicants.

The governor also announced a new program – the Better Kentucky Promise Scholarship – which he said fills the gap between tuition and federal and other state aid for all new associate degree and certificate-seeking students at public universities and private, nonprofit Kentucky institutions.

“What this means is we can fully cover the cost for approximately 6,000 additional students in the first year and 9,700 in the second year,” Beshear said. “We are removing another barrier to higher education for those students that want to go to school but could not afford it.”

“These investments in higher education are truly significant contributions to better the lives of Kentucky’s people, who will help power historic progress in the state’s workforce and post-pandemic economy,” said Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Aaron Thompson. “Now is the time to make strategic investments to provide greater opportunities to our citizens, regardless of where they are in the education pipeline. Gov. Beshear, we stand ready to do our part to fulfill Kentucky’s vision – to lift up our citizens through affordable and accessible higher education programs, including high-demand, workforce credentials, two- and four-year degrees, and beyond. It’s a simple truth: We can’t have a strong workforce and economy without a strong higher education system. Thank you, Governor.”

“We are in a transformative time. Whether we are referring to COVID or our economic boom, its clear things will be different going forward,” Beshear said. “A transformative time demands a transformative budget.”

-Staff report

Photo: Herrmann Science Center (via NKU)