Earlier today, the Kentucky Senate released its version of the state’s two-year budget plan, and I am pleased to report that it includes positive news for our campus and for higher education. With this revised version, the Senate has:
The Senate budget does include a 6.25% budget reduction across most state agencies, including NKU. However, the equity funding and anticipated performance-based funding will strengthen our ability to manage that cut of approximately $3.2 million.
We continue to stress that the 6.25% cut to help address the pension crisis, when combined with our paying the full increased pension cost for NKU ($12.8 million), represents a dual pension tax on NKU. Although pension relief and reform are not included in this budget, Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 66 could provide promising opportunities for NKU to mitigate the current financial challenges caused by NKU’s participation in the Kentucky Employee Retirement System (KERS).
Last week I sent a message to campus talking about these bills and the possibility of their positive impact on our KERS situation. Despite some of the positive news in the Senate budget, we still need pension relief and reform in KERS that comes through SB1 and SB66. KERS is the only state pension plan NKU is enrolled in, not to be confused with the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System (KTRS), which is the system that our local schools participate in. We express no opinion regarding KTRS and SB1.
Moving forward, the Senate will deliberate and likely pass this version of their budget. Because it does not align with the budget proposed by the House of Representatives, a conference committee will be formed of House and Senate leaders to review the differences and agree on a final budget.
We must act now.
The positives seen in the Senate budget are a direct response to our advocacy efforts to bring our issues to the forefront. Please do three things:
We are so close to a transformational outcome for our university. Let’s continue to make our voices heard in Frankfort.
Gerard A. St. Amand
Northern Kentucky University
800 Lucas Administrative Center
Highland Heights, KY 41099