House panel approves new way of funding Kentucky universities an - WDRB 41 Louisville News

House panel approves new way of funding Kentucky universities and colleges

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The University of Louisville's Belknap campus The University of Louisville's Belknap campus

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The better students perform, the more universities get paid. That's the essence of a new method of funding higher education in Kentucky that is on the verge of passing the legislature.

It is called performance-based funding, and it basically means that public universities would get state dollars based on how well students are doing.

Under Senate Bill 153, a university would receive its portion of nearly $1 billion in state funds based on a complex formula that includes graduation rate, how quickly students move through their degree programs and the kinds of degrees students earn.

“It would be a smart idea because you get rewarded for your success. And that's the whole point is to catch a break if you work hard for something,” said Bobby Martin, a junior at the University of Louisville.

“If you know that your funding depends on student success, I think that will foster your professors and teachers to put more effort into the classroom,” added Jonathan Shanklin, a U of L senior.

Supporters at the Capitol say it's a way to hold schools more accountable.

“If we simply keep sending them the same money without any attention to outcomes, that doesn't speak well of us guarding taxpayer interests,” said the bill’s sponsor, Senate President Pro Tem David Givens (R-Greensburg).

During a meeting of the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee hearing, lawmakers were assured the presidents of all the state universities have signed off on the bill, which was crafted by a special task force.

“Every institution had to give, and every institution had the opportunity to gain something in this model, but agreements were made in good faith,” said Gary Ransdell, outgoing president of Western Kentucky University.

But the House Democratic leader worries the bill would hurt schools in eastern Kentucky hard hit by the declining coal industry.

“You ought to go into the southeastern part of eastern Kentucky, and look at the de-population that's happened, and the economic distress that our region is under,” said Rep. Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook).

But supporters warned any changes to the bill would cause the whole deal to collapse.

The committee rejected two proposed amendments and passed the bill intact.

Passage is likely in the full House. SB 153 has already passed the Senate and has support from Gov. Matt Bevin.

You can read SB 153 here.

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