The Kentucky General Assembly this week honored retiring Council on Postsecondary Education President Robert King. The reading of the resolution in the House came as K-12 educators, current and retired, protested pension reforms inside the capitol building.
Later that same day, the general assembly approved a budget which included modified cuts in higher education funding. King noted that many university and community and technical college employees are in public pension systems.
“My observation is that the real fault here, to the extent that there’s fault, lies with frankly former governors and former legislative leaders that didn’t fund the system as it should have been,” said King, “And, as a consequence, you’ve got a lot of unhappy people.”
King said legislators and Gov. Matt Bevin are trying to fix the problem. The CPE head admits there will be some suffering as efforts are made to insure the long term stability of the retirement systems.
“And the universities as you are seeing are starting to have to make some serious decisions about their workforce and we don’t like seeing that obviously, but it is reality,” said King.
King said the CPE will be taking up tuition questions in late April. He said he’s not sure yet where the council and university presidents will be on that issue.
Kentucky universities are now facing a change in state funding based on performance. King was asked if that will lead to improvement in higher education.
“I think it will help. It’s not the only thing. There’s a number of strategies that we have been encouraging the campuses to adopt that are being used at other universities around the country with great success,” said King.
King said some of those efforts will be spelled out next week at Student Success Summit. He said speakers from some of the highest performing systems in the country will address Kentucky educators in Louisville.
King has been CPE President since 2009. He retires in June.