Veto pharmacy money

Published:

There is so much wrong about the General Assemblys appropriation of $10 million to build a new pharmacy college building at the University of the Cumberlands at Williamsburg plus another $1 million for pharmacy scholarships that Gov. Ernie Fletcher has no other recourse but to use his line-item veto to eliminate the appropriations from the new budget.

University of the Cumberlands discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, as it demonstrated last week in expelling a student for being gay. As a private university affiliated with the Southern Baptist Church, Cumberlands has every right to do what it did, but the national organization that accredits pharmacy schools has guidelines that next year require accredited schools to forbid discrimination because of sexual orientation.

Thus there is the very real prospect that Kentucky taxpayers could spend $11 million on a new pharmacy college that will not be accredited and its graduates unable to work. Without the necessary accreditation, the new $10 million building likely would sit empty and the scholarships go unused.

There is a very serious question of the constitutionality of giving any public funds to a private, church-affiliated school. As a result, there is every reason to expect a legal challenge to that appropriation, a challenge that would be long and costly.

If Kentucky needs a second pharmacy college and it probably does to meet a statewide shortage of pharmacists it ought to be located at a state university and most appropriately at the University of Louisville in conjunction with its College of Medicine. With state tax money going to the pharmacy college, it also ought to be under the authority of the state Council on Higher Education. The University of the Cumberlands is not.

The University of the Cumberlands will survive its 15 minutes of national notoriety and, given the mood of the times, it may even thrive. It does not need a pharmacy college.

Kentucky does need a second pharmacy college to supplement the nationally ranked pharmacy school at the University of Kentucky.

Fletcher should veto the Cumberlands appropriation and begin the process of using the $11 million at a state university that doesnt discriminate and can be accredited to train needed new pharmacists in Kentucky.

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