Instead of tax reform, which presumably would boost the economy and provide adequate funding for needed government services, lawmakers inserted new tax credits for thriving industries which will lower state revenues.
They cut funding for mine safety inspections. They congratulated themselves for raising teacher pay, but enacted additional cuts in higher-education funding. And they forced students to pay for new buildings at community colleges.
It’s hard to find anyone who disagrees with the notion that education is the surest way out of poverty and the best tonic for economic vitality. Yet the “leaders” who proclaim the value of education reduced funding for higher education. The same lawmakers who demand more rigor, higher graduation rates and college readiness from Kentucky’s elementary and secondary schools voted to make it more difficult for those college-ready graduates to afford college.
A decade ago, the state paid 68 percent of the cost of education at the state’s public universities while parents and students paid 32 percent. Now the percentages are essentially reversed: the state pays 34 percent, parents and students 66 percent. Meanwhile lawmakers provided no more money for need-based financial aid.
Lawmakers always say education is their top priority. Don’t believe them. They are pricing a college education out of reach for all but the well-to-do.
If that doesn’t concern you, then think about this: nearly all of them are white males who enjoy prosperity because their parents could afford a quality college education largely paid for by taxpayers when tuition was far less expensive.
Who do you think they represent?
Ronnie Ellis writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at email@example.com@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfortwww.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.