FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – Basic state funding for the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville would be at its lowest level since the 1990s – before accounting for inflation – under Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed two-year budget, the leader of each university told lawmakers at a hearing Thursday.

The state has cut higher education funding every year since 2008, forcing universities to make up the difference by jacking up tuition year after year.

But UK President Eli Capilouto and interim U of L President Greg Postel said the pain for universities doesn’t stop there, as Bevin’s proposed budget would cut or eliminate funding altogether for several important programs run by the institutions.

U of L, for example,  would lose all state funding for the Kentucky Lung Cancer Research program, the Kentucky Autism Training Center and the Trover Clinic, a rotation program that sends medical students to rural areas.

Both presidents said they recognize the precarious financial position of the state and the need to pour more money into badly underfunded public employee pensions plans.

“I feel sorry for the General Assembly with the task they have in front of them,” Postel told reporters following the hearing. “It’s very difficult thing. There are so many competing needs in the commonwealth and there’s only so much money to go around.”

UK would lose funding its Applied Energy Research Center; its Regulatory Services division, which administers state laws involving the distribution of feed, fertilizer and seed, and the marketing of raw milk; its veterinary diagnostic lab.

The hearing generated few comments from Republican lawmakers, who hold the majorities in the House and Senate and will control the final budget, as to prospects for restoring funding for universities.

Rep. Jim Decesare, a Republican from Bowling Green, said Bevin’s budget is just a “starting point” and lawmakers will do all they can to avert the cuts or “keep the bleeding to a minimum.”

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2018 WDRB News. All rights reserved.