JCPS, U of L react to Gov. Beshear's proposed budget - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS, U of L react to Gov. Beshear's proposed budget

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Gov. Steve Beshear is proposing to lift spending to historic levels, per student, in Kentucky. That's something JCPS officials say could lead to more extended learning programs, and more seats in early education.

"It is time to again fund our classrooms like we should," Gov. Beshear said in an address to a joint session Tuesday.

In order to increase spending for K-12, the governor's proposed budget calls for $98.6 million in cuts.

"This budget proposal strategically focuses our very limited resources on what I believe will deliver the greatest return: a more highly educated population that will become a more talented workforce," Gov. Beshear said.

The cuts will include 2.5 to 5 percent funding reductions for most state agencies in the first budget year. Economic development, tourism, the State Fair Board and certain public health functions would be exempt, Beshear said.

State police and higher education would see a 2.5 percent cut. That is something University of Louisville president Dr. James Ramsey said is adding to increased college costs.

"A real question at the U of L right now is, 'Can we continue on our trajectory with continued state budget cuts?'" said Ramsey. "We're really making higher education more of a private good and it is really a public good."

After six years without an increase in state funding, Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens says the Governor's commitment to K-12 education is much needed.

"We will have more money to do the things we know we have to do for our kids," she said.

Hargens says with more funding, they won't have to keep diverting money to make up for cuts in state aid.

"Imagine being able to use that $2.7 million in textbooks for more seats in early childhood," Hargens said. "That would be hundreds of students."

385 more to be exact -- and in district budget talks happening now, early childhood education is something the board insists on seeing more of.

"You want them to start ready so they can continue to learn and not have to catch up," Hargens said.

Teachers are also set to get raises under Beshear's budget.

"We're competing with other professions and states, and I think that will help us attract and keep good teachers for the classroom," said Brent McKim, Jefferson County Teachers Association president.

And although the proposed increase in K-12 funding is welcome by most, some don't agree with the method.

"It shouldn't be robbing Peter to pay Paul," said McKim. "We should be able to have a modern tax structure that keeps up with the economy."

The governor's budget now goes to lawmakers for consideration.

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