In a new video describing the importance of Family Resource and Youth Services Centers (FRYSCs) and Extended School Services (ESS) – programs the Senate budget cuts – Jackie Butts, a 6th Grade Language Arts teacher at Tichenor Middle School in northern Kentucky, says “when we talk about money, a lot of times people forget … there are students behind that money.”
As legislators head into final negotiations on the state budget, it’s a good time to remember that all services on the chopping block have people and purpose behind them. The Senate budget and to a lesser degree the House budget (which largely takes out education cuts) threaten these services, and therefore the building blocks of thriving communities and a growing economy. Below is a sampling of services facing cuts.
In (non-SEEK) P-12 education, cuts to areas including the following will mean fewer Kentucky children going to preschool and other service reductions, inadequate educational supports and a decrease in the number of teachers and other crucial personnel in schools:
- Preschool equips kids with the skills they need to succeed in school and later on in life.
- FRYSCs and ESS programs respond to needs that otherwise hold students back: FRYSCs provide meals, educational supplies, clothes and other necessities for kids whose families and communities face economic challenges while ESS programs provide instructional time outside normal classroom hours to kids who need extra academic support.
- Through professional development, teachers continually learn how to be better at their jobs.
Cuts to higher education will make college even less affordable and accessible than it already is and compromise the quality of education provided as faculty and staff are furloughed and lose their jobs, and some student life, academic and community service programs are terminated. There has even been concern that cuts could shutter KSU altogether. These cuts also have economic implications for the state. As University of Kentucky President Capilouto pointed out, universities (and higher ed more generally) are “an economic engine”:
- Jobs in our state increasingly require at least some higher education. Kentucky’s eight public universities graduate thousands of students each year from baccalaureate and advanced degree programs in a wide array of fields including agriculture, business, computer science, liberal arts, education, engineering, health sciences, journalism, law, nursing, social work and other fields that make our economy strong.
- University researchers make important discoveries and contributions to Kentucky, including in medicine and technology, that help spur innovative businesses.
- The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) – consisting of 16 separate colleges across the state that serve nontraditional students at a higher rate than most of the state’s universities – offers industry-specific training as well as courses that transfer to four-year institutions. KCTCS is the state’s largest workforce development program.
- Need-based financial aid helps low-income students afford to enroll in college and stay on track to earn a degree. The Senate budget missed the opportunity the House took up to significantly boost need-based aid for these students.
- Adult Education (KYAE) prepares Kentuckians for and provides them with access to a GED diploma, a crucial credential for attaining gainful employment in today’s economy.
- Access and connectivity to information – including about employment, current events and community services – and high-quality educational resources help Kentuckians live well and be active in their communities. Kentucky Educational Television (KET) and the Department for Libraries and Archives provide such access. The Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Office for the Blind help remove barriers and otherwise support individuals who face special challenges.
Cuts to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) – nine percent in all three versions of the budget – would weaken supports for the most vulnerable Kentuckians, from children in foster care to low-income, elderly Kentuckians. Thousands will continue to wait on programs for which they are eligible but don’t receive due to lack of funds. Cuts could impact:
- The Department of Community Based Services (DCBS), which provides: child care assistance to low-income, working parents to help pay for child care; financial assistance to Kentuckians raising children through Foster Care and Kinship Care (for non-parental relatives); support for victims of abuse and their families through domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers; services that help at-risk juveniles stay at home; and child protective services and family prevention (crisis intervention and in-home services), among others.
- The Department for Aging and Independent Living (DAIL), which provides meals, transportation, home-based care and other community-based services so that elderly and physically disabled Kentuckians can stay healthy and happy at home.
- The Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (DBHDID), which includes Community Mental Health Centers providing assessment, educational, case management and community support services to adults and children with severe mental illness/emotional disabilities; and drug and alcohol treatment for people struggling with addiction.
- Residential services for people who need psychiatric hospitalization, nursing facility care, and other inpatient programs as well as community based care through Supports for Community Living (SCL), Michelle P. and the Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Medicaid waiver programs.
The above three areas comprised about 80 percent of total General Fund spending in the last budget cycle. Other areas facing budget cuts also do work that makes a meaningful difference to our quality of life and ability to make progress as a state:
- The Energy and Environment Cabinet helps conserve and oversee use of Kentucky’s natural resources such as land, forestry and mining; analyzes and protects our state’s biodiversity through the Nature Preserves Commission; and pursues Energy Development and Independence through conservation, efficiency and alternative energy efforts.
- The Office of the State Budget Director supplies policy and economic analysis that forms the basis of state fiscal planning which impacts all Kentuckians through the budget.
- The Attorney General enforces laws including those related to the state’s drug epidemic, investigates and prosecutes crime, and protects Kentuckians from fraud among other responsibilities.
- The State Board of Elections – within the Secretary of State’s office – helps ensure the integrity of Kentucky’s voting process and provides training and infrastructure to counties that administer elections.
- Watchdog organizations like the Executive Branch Ethics Commission and Registry of Election Finance make sure that Kentucky’s elected leaders and candidates for office abide the law and are accountable to the public.
- The Commission on Human Rights protects Kentuckians’ civil rights by investigating cases of discrimination based on race, religion, origin, sex, age, disability and familial status. The Commission on Women advances the status of women in the state through education and advocacy about barriers to progress.