Legislation directing Gov. Andy Beshear to replace the gubernatorially appointed members of the Kentucky State University Board of Regents won approval by the Kentucky Senate on Tuesday afternoon.
Senate Bill 265, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tem David Givens (R-Greensburg) requires the Governor’s Postsecondary Education Nominating Committee to forward 16 names to Gov. Beshear by March 26, from which he would name eight regents by April 1. This would give the Senate until lawmakers adjourn April 14 to confirm those nominated.
The student, faculty, and staff regents would not be affected, and under the bill, current members could be reappointed.
During debate on the floor vote, Givens told his colleagues this measure goes with House Bill 250, which provides KSU $23 million, so the Frankfort school doesn’t finish the fiscal year ending June 30 in the red.
“The Board of Regents plays such a vitally important role in the other components that are vital to success for Kentucky State University,” he said.
During the debate, Sen. Gerald Neal, Democrat from Louisville and a KSU alum, stated, “The General Assembly has been complicit in underfunding and devaluing what this institution has meant historically and the potential that it has for our entire Commonwealth and beyond.”
Neal asked the Senate, “Is the Kentucky General Assembly going to take advantage of this historic opportunity to do right by that institution. do right by its history, do right by its purpose, right by its mission, and step up to the plate and invest adequately and substantially in ways it has never done historically?”
He also pointed to recent positive trends on the campus, including rising student retention and graduation rates.
Last summer, KSU announced that it faced a budget shortfall with a stack of unpaid bills and other debts, a ballooning payroll, and several years of poorly managed spending that outpaced revenue.
Gov. Beshear placed the university under the oversight of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, following the sudden resignation of the school’s president, M. Christopher Brown. The school is currently searching for a permanent president.
In addition to the hoped for $23 million appropriation for the current fiscal year, KSU is also looking for ways to cut about $7 million from its budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
SB 265 was approved 34-0, and now heads to the House.
Written by Tom Latek. Cross-posted from Kentucky Today.
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