With more than 92,000 students, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) is by far the largest higher education institution in the state, but its 16 colleges have lagged behind in facility upgrades and investments since the system was created in 1997.
Today, KCTCS president Dr. Michael McCall and campus presidents joined Governor Steve Beshear in support of the Governor's historic budget proposal known as the KCTCS BuildSmart Investment for Kentucky Competitiveness, which will issue $145.5 million in agency bonds to KCTCS to reinvest in campus improvements. The bonds will be supported by KCTCS revenues at no cost to taxpayer revenue in the General Fund. The BuildSmart proposal represents the single-largest investment in the KCTCS system since its formation.
KCTCS leadership brought Gov. Beshear an innovative proposal to use agency bonds for the first time ever to fund up to 75 percent of the cost of 16 critical projects. At least 25 percent of the remaining cost will come from the local communities and other public or private sources. When paired with the local match, the BuildSmart agency bonds will finance $194 million in construction across the Commonwealth.
"Our community and technical college system is one of our most important tools in building a stronger, more agile and adaptable workforce. Yet, as our campuses have swelled with students, we haven't been able to keep up with the system's broad infrastructure needs," said Gov. Beshear. "Through BuildSmart, agency bonds will let KCTCS campuses upgrade facilities to accommodate student needs with no impact to the General Fund. At a time when we are pushing our students to pursue higher education, it's imperative that they have adequate classrooms and facilities."
General Fund support for all higher education institutions has been cut 15 percent over the last three biennial budgets, with another 2.5 percent cut proposed in the new budget.
KCTCS has requested budget support for a number of infrastructure needs in the past, but given the scope of need across the 73-campus system, the General Fund can't cover all the projects. The last three biennial budgets have passed with no new capital improvements in KCTCS.
"The KCTCS BuildSmart Investment for Kentucky Competiveness is about building a skilled, educated workforce to ensure our state thrives in both today's and tomorrow's economy, " said KCTCS President Michael B. McCall. "This investment is a perfect example of a public/private partnership and builds upon the strong connections our colleges have forged with their local business communities."
KCTCS leadership said debt service will not add to the cost of an education in any meaningful way.
"Given the low costs of borrowing, now is the ideal time to invest further in education, and there is no doubt that these projects are needed. By including local support, we can stretch our state tax dollars even further," said House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
A list of all proposed projects and bond funds is attached, as well as a list of quotes from each college president.