Senate committee approves endowed research fund bill Skip to content

Senate committee approves endowed research fund bill

The Senate Education Committee unanimously advanced a bill Thursday that would create an endowment fund for research consortiums in Kentucky.

The Senate Education Committee unanimously advanced a bill Thursday that would create an endowment fund for research consortiums in Kentucky.

Senate Bill 1 would set up five different consortium accounts for cutting-edge research administered by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). 

The CPE would study possibilities for research and set up an administrative process. At the end of five years, the effort will be reviewed to make sure all metrics are being met, said the bill’s sponsor, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester.

Stivers said his daughter is a master’s level biomedical engineer who helped inspire the legislation. The goal, he said, is to create something similar to the Research Triangle Regional Partnership that exists between Duke University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“They created a totally different type of research culture there and were bringing in what would be called investigators and researchers and bringing in a lot of high-dollar investments, which totally changed the region,” he said.

Stivers said his daughter and others are working to see if they can get rats with severed spinal columns to walk again – one illustration of the importance of science in Kentucky.

He also mentioned states where science is put at the forefront. He said the University of Pittsburg Medical Center is the largest employer in Pennsylvania, and it’s the second largest recipient in the U.S. for National Institutes of Health research funding. That allowed them to become an academic and intellectual incubator in research, he said.

The bill was well received in committee.

Senate Minority Caucus Chair Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, said the SB 1 is visionary and it has his unconditional support.

“As a lifelong Kentuckian, it’s always been my observation that we talk a lot about being champions in the arena of athletics,” he said “And while there’s nothing wrong about that, I wish we talked more about being champions in the arena of academics. That’s really what I want for Kentuckians is to be academic champions, and that’s what this bill really does.”

Senate President Pro Tempore David P. Givens, R-Greensburg, said he’s a huge fan of the possibilities the bill could spur.

“Wonderful vision. You and I have discussed this on and off over the years, and it’s a testament to you and your passion for this state as a whole that this has come to fruition,” he said to Stivers.

Givens suggested Stivers think about adding language about council preference being given to unique, collaborative arrangements and that the funding would be dispersed to varying schools.

Another supporter, Sen. Stephen Meredith, R-Leitchfield, said the bill offers an “exciting concept.”

“In terms of funding streams, this certainly looks like it lends itself to public-private partnerships,” he said.

Stivers said such investments are needed to move Kentucky into the future on health care, economics and research. “And it will totally change the educational and economic dynamics of this state,” he said.

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“Capitol Update” is a non-partisan publication of the Legislative Research Commission



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