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Prichard Committee Officials Assess State Budget Agreement

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The head of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence would like to see more flexibility in early childhood education spending. The budget agreement reached in Frankfort maintains education funding for preschool through 12th grade. 
Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence Director Bridgitte Blom- Ramsey says early childhood education is viewed as one way to help reduce achievement gaps. She says that effort could be furthered with a public preschool-child care center collaboration. “A good example would be a preschool teacher in a school district being able to go to a child care center to provide preschool services,” said Blom-Ramsey. 

Blom-Ramsey is appreciative that legislators maintained funding levels for preschool through 12th grade. She says family resource youth service centers were also preserved in the budget agreement. 

Former Lexington mayor Pam Miller, also and founding member of the Prichard Committee, believes the state’s pension shortfall requires a broader discussion about taxes. Miller says a ‘big solution’ is needed to make a sizeable impact on addressing Kentucky’s $30 billion pension deficit. “In my opinion, you’ve got to deal with the pensions through tax reform," Miller said. "Get a more realistic tax structure and attack it that way rather than cutting our way to prosperity." 

Miller says while she appreciates lawmakers working together to compromise on the budget, she worries that cuts to higher education will result in higher tuition at state universities. The budget agreement includes a 4.5 percent cut to the state’s colleges and universities over the next two years. The final spending plan is expected to be approved by the House and Senate Friday.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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