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Ramsey, others address House budget subcommittee

by UofL Today last modified Jan 21, 2010 05:20 PM

The presidents of the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky told state lawmakers Jan. 21 that they are worried top researchers and faculty will leave their institutions if they have to go a third straight year without a pay raise.

UofL President James Ramsey and others spoke to members of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Postsecondary Education.

One example of UofL being unable to compete because of state budget cuts came last year, Ramsey said, when the entire neurosurgery department left the university to go to Norton Healthcare. Norton, he said, offered bigger salaries and financial support.

Ramsey said he worries that could happen to other university departments.

"People have been sucking it up for two years," he noted. "I don't know how long they can keep sucking it up."

The subcommittee also heard pleas for more state funding from Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock, who represents the eight state university presidents; Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King; and CPE Chairman and former Gov. Paul Patton.

"The inescapable conclusion is that the commonwealth needs new revenue," Whitlock said, adding that whatever legislators agree upon, the university presidents will support.

Patton, who is considered to be the father of 1997 higher education reform, told lawmakers that "education is jobs." He praised them for not drastically cutting university funding in terrible economic times.

"I hope you can figure out a way to do that one more time," he said.

King told the legislators that he understands they will have difficulty passing a budget that doesn't include some cuts to higher education, but he added that he hopes they understand that the key to creating jobs is funding higher education.

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