Morehead State University is the first of Kentucky’s regional universities to cut its workforce in the face of impending state budget cuts and exploding pension costs, announcing voluntary buyouts that would let employees go part-time or leave the university.
“This spring will ultimately result in a need to make a significant reduction in our employee FTE across all areas of the campus,” President Jay Morgan wrote in a campus-wide email dated Friday. “Our preference is to make those position reductions in vacant personnel lines created through normal employee attrition and ‘voluntary separation options’ before having to consider potential involuntary reductions in force of current employees.”
In Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed state budget budget, Morehead faces a 6.25 percent cut, or $2.5 million, in overall state funding on top of a $2.7 million increase in pension payments. With fixed cost increases, the actual deficit could be as much as $9 million in each of the next two years. The school also faces dropping enrollment because it draws heavily from Eastern Kentucky, where the economy has been decimated by the coal industry’s decline.
Any proposed buyouts would be considered by administrators on a case-by-case basis, Morgan said. Morgan said he hoped most volunteers would choose to go from full-time to part-time positions, or reduce the number of months they work. Faculty and staff who choose buyouts would also retain certain options, such as tuition benefits for family for three years.
Morehead is the first, but it won't be the last. Eastern Kentucky University and Murray State University are in the same boat. Expect more employee cuts and soon as Bevin's austerity budget destroys the commonwealth.