Governor Patton’s Remarks
Sitting behind me is the future of Kentucky.
I could not think of a more appropriate spot than sitting
in front of Kentucky’s future to share with you the implications of looming
budget cuts to education in Kentucky.
When I first took
office, my focus was on creating quality jobs that could provide the citizens of
this state with the standard of living they deserve… like those before me, I
evolved from a jobs governor to an education governor because it became evident
very early on, that in order to attract quality jobs, the education of our
citizens had to be the main focus.
We’ve made great
strides in education in Kentucky over the past twelve years.
Because of our commitments to KERA, our elementary and
secondary school children are now scoring above the national average in
math, science and language arts.
one of only three states to show significant progress in science on the
National Assessment of Educational Progress report that was released last
Our dropout rate has decreased as we have put more
resources into intervention programs, Family Resource Youth Service Centers
and, extended school services.
Enrollment in our public colleges and universities is
up by over 19,000 since 1998. For
the first time, over 200,000 students are enrolled in public and independent
post-secondary education in Kentucky.
Enrollment in adult education
programs was 86,413 in fiscal year 2002, surpassing the goal of 75,000
In fiscal year 2002, 14,651
Kentuckians earned GEDs, compared to 13,939 the previous year.
The most important thing we can do for the future of
Kentucky is to keep our commitment to education. The future of our nation and our state rests on the intellectual capital
of our people. As I’ve said before, education improvement doesn’t have a termination point…it’s an
on-going process…a journey, not a destination. That’s what makes the current
fiscal crisis in our state so painful.
Our policy-makers must understand the implications of the
cuts that will have to be made because of the current fiscal crisis.
Kentucky is not alone as states experience the most severe revenue
shortfalls since World War II.
The fact that some other states are worse off than Kentucky
is no source of comfort for me because that fact in no way diminishes the impact
of these potential cuts on the future of the children of Kentucky.
advocating cuts – I am simply trying to make sure that everyone understands
the potential implications if this is the path we have to go down. In the last biennium state government, through good
management, has experienced $872 million in revenue shortfalls. We did this with
little effect on the delivery of services to the people of the Commonwealth. We
now face additional revenue shortfalls of $144 million for the remainder of this
fiscal year and $365 million in FY ’04, about 5.2 percent of budgeted
I don’t know any
way to cut state expenses this much without dramatically affecting service
delivery. We have exhausted our
ability to manage this shortfall using non-recurring resources such as the
Budget Reserve Trust Fund and other dedicated-use funds.
Since it represents
60% of our general fund, education must be considered in any potential budget
cut. The magnitude of the budgetary crisis leaves us little choice.
If we exempt education, it will severely compound the problems of other
I’ve asked several education leaders to join me today to
share with you the dramatic implications that potential budget cuts to education
would have in Kentucky communities. First, Commissioner Wilhoit will provide you
with a system-wide overview of the impact to K-12 education of a 5.2 percent cut
and we’ll hear from superintendents about the local impact.
Now I’d like to introduce Sue Hodges Moore, the acting
president of the Council on Postsecondary Education.
Adult education and literacy is a very important component
of life-long learning and critical to the future of the Commonwealth.
Dr. Cheryl King will give you the implications of potential budget cuts
on adult ed.
After what I have heard today I am more convinced than ever
that Kentucky cannot afford cuts to education.
The progress that has been made over the past decade must continue.
If we make these cuts, Kentucky will not be able to meet
the needs of it’s people. We’ve
heard the implications. All of us
have to ask ourselves the question, are we willing to suffer the consequences?
An awfully lot of people - teachers, parents, business and
community leaders, our legislature – have invested their time and energy to
ensure that all of our children have the best opportunity available anywhere to
succeed. These efforts are
threatened by the state’s current fiscal crisis.
We cannot afford to let the future of Kentucky down.