CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As state agencies face another round of budget cuts during the 2015 Fiscal Year, a resolution has been introduced in the Senate in defense of funding for higher education.

The proposed resolution, as written, recognizes that “any additional cuts to the funding for higher education institutions would be detrimental to the growth and the financial well-being of West Virginia.”

It continued, “Budgetary cuts to higher education in West Virginia will not help the serious economic and educational issues that face the state, nor would cuts allow an optimal return on investment.”  Educational investment, the resolution said, must be a priority.

Dr. Paul Hill, chancellor for the Higher Education Policy Commission, agreed.

“Look at what we do, that is put degreed individuals on the street, into the workforce of West Virginia.  They’re just very concerned about the ability to do that,” Hill said of the resolution’s Senate supporters.

For the current fiscal year, higher education institutions, like most other state agencies, cut their budgets by at least 7.5 percent.  While many agencies are being told to cut another 7.5 percent ahead of 2015, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has asked for a 3.75 percent reduction from higher ed.

Hill said the previous cuts were substantial.  “That belt-tightening at our institutions has lead to not filling positions.  We have some institutions, I know a couple, that have 20 to 30 positions they simply are not filling.  They’re doubling up on some workloads.  I know we’ve had some reductions of staff,” and, Hill added, only so much can be cut.

“If we continue this process, it ultimately leads to increases in tuition,” he said.  Tuition has already risen, statewide and nationally, by anywhere from five percent to ten percent in recent years.

The sponsors of the resolution, SR 18, are as follows:

Senate President Jeff Kessler (D-Marshall, 2), Senator Roman Prezioso (D-Marion, 13), Senator Bob Plymale (D-Wayne, 5), Senator Larry Edgell (D-Wetzel, 2), Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-Berkeley, 16), Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone, 7), Senator William Laird (D-Fayette, 10), Senator Herb Snyder (D-Jefferson, 16), Senator Evan Jenkins (R-Cabell, 5), Senator Brooks McCabe (D-Kanawha, 17), Senator Bob Beach (D-Monongalia, 13), Senator Rocky Fitzsimmons (D-Ohio, 1) and Senator Daniel Hall (D-Wyoming, 9).

The resolution, which is a statement more than binding legislation, was awaiting action from the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

Hill was a guest on Tuesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

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  • Leonard

    First a great reduction solution to part of the WV Higher Education Cost would be to increase the tuition to cover the cost of education and then give the West Virginia Higher Education Grant an increase to cover Tuition for IN STATE students and let the out of state students pay for their education. The biggest problem is WVU who has approximately 55% out of state students and to much political power. A second thing would be to merge the smaller Educational Institutions into WVU and Marshall. Northern Schools to WVU and Southern Schools go to MU. Finally make all the Community Colleges one school and cut all the administrative cost.

  • Aaron

    There are 11 institutions that provide Baccalaureate or higher degrees and 10 institutions with a total 19 locations that offer Associate Degree programs for ~92,000 students. Of those students, WVU accounts for 32% and Marshall accounts for 15% meaning 2 institutions instruct nearly half the students in the state.

    Do we really need the other 19 institutions offering duplicate degrees given the state of technology and the availability of course in most regions? Additionally, with an average graduation rate at our Community and Technical Colleges, cannot changes be made? Do we really need to pay 10 Presidents compensation packages well in excess of $100,000 to graduate so few students?

    Given the amount we spend on higher education and the amount of waste that goes on, I hardly think asking that branch of government to cut half of what everyone else does is too much.

  • Independent View

    Not to worry, with an impending election, the teachers' unions who have a majority of the legislators in their hip pocket will get their pledge of no cuts to their members or to school budgets.
    Unfortunately, for the higher education folks, their numbers are too small as compared to the teachers' union members and therefore, higher education is relagated to the mouse that roared.