Agriculture Commissioner James Comer says if he’s elected governor he’d essentially offer Kentucky students a $20,000 degree to University of Kentucky and University of Louisville if they can graduate in four years and then stay in the state.
Comer, who is seeking the Republican gubernatorial nomination, on Thursday unveiled the education plank of his campaign.
Under his plan, students would be able to have the full amount of their tuition reimbursed through credits on their Kentucky tax returns if they stay in-state to work.
Four-year tuition currently costs about $44,000 at UK and over $40,000 at U of L.
He said he’ll also push for an outcomes-based funding model that rewards Kentucky colleges for producing employable students.
He also wants to give employers who hire graduates of the Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges a $2,000 tax credit per student.
To fund that initiative, he’d cut KCTCS administrative staffing budget by 10 percent to save $13 million a year, he said.
At a governor’s debate in Versailles on Wednesday, Comer said that putting more money in the K-12 education system isn’t going to ensure Kentuckians have a better education because of government inefficiency.
“The education dollars in Kentucky especially with respect to K-12 isn’t making it to the front lines, it’s getting eaten up by bureaucracy and administrative costs,” Comer said.
Last year the General Assembly passed a budget that increased K-12 funding by $189 million over two years.
Last year, critics argued that Kentucky students could not meet college and career readiness standards because of a lack of funding.
The Kentucky School Board Association predicted that the state faced a $15 million shortfall because of an unexpected growth in attendance. That shortfall was filled by a last-minute raiding of the health insurance fund for public employees.