Frankfort Local News

Plan to Create Scholarship Fund for Appalachian College Students In Trouble

A proposal to create a scholarship fund for far eastern Kentucky college students could be in jeopardy.

The Appalachian scholarship fund was intended as a compromise, after a measure to move the University of Pikeville into the state system couldn’t garner enough support. In the House’s version of the budget, lawmakers funded the scholarships with coal severance tax money.

That funding was removed in the Senate’s budget changes.

Senate President David Williams supports the scholarships. He says he was out-voted by his Republican caucus to remove the funding, but hopes the proposal will be back in the budget after a conference committee compromise.

Frankfort Local News

Stumbo Rips UPIKE Report

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is blasting a report that recommends the University of Pikeville not be moved into the state university system.

Stumbo is a chief supporter of making UPIKE Kentucky’s ninth public university.

But a report by an outside agency commissioned by Governor Steve Beshear says the measure wouldn’t do enough to help raise education levels in far eastern Kentucky.

Stumbo rejected the report’s findings, saying the increased collaboration and creation of scholarships the report calls for isn’t enough.

Frankfort Local News

Study Advises UPIKE Remain a Private University

A new study says bringing the University of the Pikeville won’t do enough to help higher education in far eastern Kentucky.

The report was released today by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. It says that UPIKE shouldn’t be brought into the state system, because doing so won’t help raise educational levels as much as continued collaboration would.

Frankfort Local News

Synthetic Drug Crackdown, UPIKE Compromise Bills Pass House

Kentucky’s House of Representatives cleared several big items off their agenda today.

The full House passed a bill that changes how law enforcement implements synthetic drug laws. Another measure would create a child fatality review panel.

The House also passed a compromise to House Bill 260, which originally would have made the University of Pikeville the ninth state university. Now, a modified version of the bill creates a scholarship program for students from far eastern Kentucky to finish their bachelor’s degrees at private universities or public partnerships in the area.

On the House floor, Representative Rocky Adkins offered an amendment to the UPIKE compromise. The amendment allows students to receive scholarships for schools outside the designated counties if their major is not available at an eastern Kentucky school.

Frankfort Local News

House Education Committee Passes UPIKE Compromise Creating Scholarship Fund

A bill creating a new scholarship fund from coal severance tax monies has cleared a House committee this morning.

The scholarships have evolved from an original proposal that would have added the University of Pikeville into the state university system.

But the UPIKE proposal didn’t have the votes to pass, so lawmakers settled on a compromise. Under the new plan, college juniors and seniors can receive up to six thousand dollars a year to complete their bachelor degrees at any private university or public partnership in far eastern Kentucky.

And while that proposal passed the House Education Committee, state representative Leslie Combs says the discussion on UPIKE has only been delayed.

Frankfort Local News

UPIKE Compromise Includes New Scholarship Fund

Lawmakers have reached a compromise on a proposal to create more educational opportunities in eastern Kentucky.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo has been advocating to move the University of Pikeville into the state university system. But that proposal doesn’t currently have the support to become reality, which forces supporters to adopt a compromise.

That compromise would set up a scholarship for up to six thousand dollars a year from multi-county coal severance tax funds. The funds would be available for juniors and seniors in 16 counties to attend private colleges–like UPIKE.

But the scholarship would not force recipients to stay in that region after graduation.

Frankfort Local News

EKU President Whitlock Not Taking Sides on UPIKE

Eastern Kentucky University President Doug Whitlock is staying neutral on the proposal to bring the University of Pikeville into the state college system.

EKU is one of two universities expected to lose students if UPIKE becomes public. The other is Morehead State University, which is actively campaigning against the move.

Whitlock was scheduled to testify on the issue before the House Education Committee today, but a presentation by Morehead President Wayne Andrews took up all the committee’s time. Afterward, Whitlock told Kentucky Public Radio there are issues with poor education in Eastern Kentucky region and there are several remedies.

“UPIKE’s a possible solution,” he said. “The sorts of things that President Andrews just outlined around increased collaboration and such thing as University Center of the Mountains, that’s also a possibility.”

Whitlock also mentioned giving student loans to those in the region to study at other state universities that would be forgiven if they returned to far eastern Kentucky afterward.

Whitlock also said the state could give Eastern Kentucky residents forgivable student loans to study at other state universities.

The committee is expected to continue hearing testimony on the UPIKE bill for at least one more week.

Frankfort Local News

Stumbo Pushes Back on UPIKE Detractors

The leaders of a movement to bring the University of Pikeville into the state college system made their case to the House Education Committee today.

There was little new information revealed in the hearing, but it gave lawmakers a first-hand account of how the move would work.

It also allowed proponents a chance to strike back at detractors. Many lawmakers affiliated with Morehead State University have spoken out against the UPIKE move, and so has Morehead State President Wayne Andrews.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a main supporter of the UPIKE move, told the committee such concerns are unfounded.

Frankfort Local News

UPIKE Bill Set for Hearing in House Education Committee

Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the plan to make the University of Pikeville the ninth state university will not be derailed by the hectic session.

Stumbo is the main legislative supporter of the measure. And he says despite redistricting, expanded gambling legislation and other barriers or distractions, his bill will continue moving forward.

The latest step is a hearing today in the House Education Committee.

“And I think once people start hearing the facts on it, you know it’s one of those issues that make a lot of sense,” Stumbo says. “There’s a need there and the funding mechanism’s there.”

The proposal would move UPIKE into the state system using $13 million in coal severance tax funds. The tax is collected from companies that dig up coal or other natural resources in Kentucky, and some of the funds are distributed to the counties where the mining occurs.


Details Slow UPIKE’s Path to Public System

An attempt to add the University of Pikeville to the commonwealth’s public university system has slowed amid a flurry of technical questions.

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is leading the attempt to make the private UPIKE Kentucky’s ninth state university. If UPIKE is accepted into the state system, the commonwealth would control all of the school’s assets, including campus property. But former Kentucky Governor and current UPIKE President Paul Patton wants to know if the university will get the assets back if state funding falls through.

Stumbo said late last week he didn’t have all the answers to questions like that. So he’s planning to talk issues over with Patton soon.

“The bill’s pretty simple right now,” Stumbo says. “But he had some questions about what happens to the assets if the state funding doesn’t materialize, what happens. Those sorts of questions. And I wasn’t prepared to answer those cause I don’t know the answer to them right now.”

The private university has sent lawmakers an information packet on why the school should be the ninth public state university. In the packet, the university says it would need $13 million from the state every year and plans to use money from the coal severance tax fund to make that appropriation. The university would transfer all assets except a $17 million endowment and will lower it’s tuition to $7,000 a year.

You can see the full packet here.