Students and teachers await budget vote

It’s not signed yet, but the possibility of Kentucky lawmakers passing a budget Friday is promising.

The Kentucky House speaker and the Senate president presented an agreement between Republicans and Democrats. Some local school districts are relieved and hope it passes.

One of the big ticket items in the budget is free community college. It will cost $25 million to send your child to college for free if they are a Kentucky high school graduate or earn a GED by 19 years old, have a 2.5 grade point average and take 15 credit hours per semester in community college.

The proposed budget also keeps K-12 funding the same.

“Just making stuff and having fun,” is how Adam Grosz describes working in shop class. His grades are almost perfect, he scored a 30 on the ACT, and he doesn’t want a four-year degree. “Everything needs to be welded. Somebody always has a job for you,” Grosz told me.

He hopes to perfect his welding at West Kentucky Community and Technical College. Grosz wants to start making money as soon as can while avoiding debt after graduation. “Murray State would cost me over $100,000 to go there for a four-year degree. At the West Kentucky one, I can go for about $15,000. If that’s free, I can go out with no student loans and start making money immediately,” Grosz added.

If the budget bill passes, it won’t just affect a graduating senior interested in community college. It will affect any child in Kentucky, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Calloway County High School Principal Rick McCallon says he knows balancing a budget is tough. But, he hopes a budget is passed. “We kind of need to know exactly what to expect, because we’re already looking at 2016-2017,” McCallon told me.

Not everyone is satisfied with the compromise, especially Republican leadership in our area. Sen. Danny Carroll has this to say about free community college: “I think it’s important for us to make it affordable. But, I don’t think it’s our responsibility to provide a free college education”

The budget will cut funding for four-year colleges like Murray State by 4.5 percent. The original cut was 9 percent. Murray State President Dr. Robert Davies sent us this statement: “We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our state leaders as they work to finalize the budget, and anxiously await Friday’s vote."

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