Rep. Steven Doan, R-Erlanger, waits to file his bills with the House clerk Tuesday. (LRC Public Information)
FRANKFORT — The group that oversees the state’s public universities and community colleges were unaware a Northern Kentucky Republican planned to file a bill that would dissolve the council.
Officials with the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) officials said in a statement to the Kentucky Lantern they were reviewing the legislation Wednesday morning. Rep. Steven Doan, of Erlanger, filed House Bill 257 on Tuesday. If passed by the General Assembly, the legislation would abolish CPE and transfer its duties to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority.
“The agency was not aware of the bill in advance,” officials said. “Should the bill be signed into law it would impact approximately 100 employees.”
The Council on Postsecondary Education was created as part of the Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997.
The governor appoints board members to the council, which is made up of 13 citizens, a faculty member, a student member and the Kentucky education commissioner, who is an ex-officio member.
According to a Tuesday statement, Doan said the state’s “experiment with CPE controlling higher education has failed to produce the greatest yield for Kentucky’s students.” His bill would add three student representatives to KHEAA’s board — an undergraduate student from a public university, a graduate student from a public university and a student from a private university.
“CPE’s accomplishments include a decade of record enrollment decline across the board of Kentucky’s institution(s), including record drops in enrollment for low-income students,” the representative said. “Kentucky can no longer withstand another year of higher education being led by CPE.”
The Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority was formed in 1966 to aid Kentucky students in getting access to higher education. It oversees state scholarships and grants, such as the Kentucky Education Excellence Scholarship program, the College Access Program Grant and the Kentucky Tuition Grant. A spokesperson for KHEAA had not returned a request for comment Wednesday morning.
CPE recently completed a study on expanding postsecondary education in southeastern Kentucky after the General Assembly directed the council to research the idea during its previous legislative session. The report found expanding higher education in the region by three ways — establishing a new residential public university, acquiring a private university or establishing a residential campus as a satellite of an existing regional public university — were each in “some way problematic.”
The legislation for the study was originally sponsored by Republican Senate President Robert Stivers.
Doan’s bill had no co-sponsors as of Wednesday morning and had yet to receive a committee assignment.
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