By WESLEY ROBINSON
The two chambers of Kentucky General Assembly are at odds over the state’s budget, which could jeopardize funding for phase two of the New Science Building.
Each chamber—the House and Senate—released its own budget proposal recently, each with significantly different approaches to funding the Commonwealth’s state universities and colleges.
The Senate budget proposal, released this Monday, avoided the 2.5 percent higher education funding cut that the House proposal asked for, but did remove funding for all capital projects for state universities and colleges, including the $66 million construction for phase two of Eastern’s new Science Building.
The House budget proposal, in contrast, asked for a 2.5 percent cut to higher education funding, but kept in place the roughly $520 million in bonds for proposed state university and college capital projects.
President Michael Benson said the capital projects are part of an important investment in education. He said funding projects would create jobs and give opportunities to students in a way the universities current facilities cannot.
“The next week or so is very important and we’ll be up [in Frankfort] as much as we can,” Benson said. He visited Frankfort with Craig Turner, Board of Regents chair, and David McFaddin, director of government relations for Eastern, to plead the case to retain the capital projects funding.
Benson said he understood what the Senate was trying to do by restoring the proposed cuts and nixing the funding for buildings, but said he believes it’s the wrong choice.
“We’ve made some difficult decisions that have put us in a position where we can absorb some of the proposed cuts,” Benson said. “But we can’t deal with the chance that we won’t get a $66 million dollar building.”
The state House and Senate are expected to iron out the differences between the two budget proposals over the next few weeks.