Attorney General Andy Beshear files lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin over university cuts

04/11/2016 09:37 PM

FRANKFORT – Attorney General Andy Beshear followed through with his promise to file legislation against Gov. Bevin over 4.5 percent cuts to higher education during this fiscal year.

The lawsuit filed on Monday in Franklin County Circuit Court questions Bevin’s authority to order the cuts to the budget passed two-years ago by the General Assembly.

Beshear contends that the cuts are illegal, violating Kentucky’s constitutional provision of separation of powers, as well as the governor’s constitutional duty to “faithfully execute” the law.

According to the complaint, the action by the governor further violates Kentucky’s statutes that govern budget reductions and specifically violates the 2014-2016 Biennium Budget law.

“No governor has the power to do what this governor has done, and I would sue any governor who did this, whether Democratic or Republican,” Beshear said. “Governor Bevin’s unilateral cuts in this current fiscal year violates our constitutions separation of powers where only the legislature can pass laws, appropriate, and spend tax dollars.”

Beshear further stated that he feels that Bevin knows that his actions were not legal, because of the way he handled a budget reduction for the Road Plan budget through an executive order. That reduction stated that consensus forecast group met and provided a forecast which presented a budget shortfall and cited a statute which requires a budget reduction.

“In the order, the governor returns to the Road Fund Budget Reduction Plan contained in the Road Fund budget which was passed into law just like the rest of the budget,” Beshear said. “The governor’s own executive order admits that this is where his authority to make reductions comes from. The consensus forecasting group, and or, an actual shortfall, and the actual budget document itself passed into law, and not some allocation or allocation statute.”

Beshear also questioned the cuts to higher education saying that it will lead to hard working Kentucky families paying even more for higher education.

“University presidents themselves are not going to absorb any budget cuts, it will be the current and future students,” Beshear said. “Make no mistake, tuition will go up. It always has when there are cuts.”

Beshear decided that he didn’t want to wait to see a final budget agreement before filing the suit because he wants Bevin to understand the legalities that he must work under in making any future budget decisions.

“The only way to dissolve this issue is for the court to not only declare this order illegal, but also that the governor does not have this power, or for the governor to agree in this settlement, that he does not have this power, and would not try to do it again,” Beshear said.

Beshear says that he’ll seek a hearing on a temporary injunction Thursday before Judge Thomas Wingate.

Gov. Bevin claimed partisan politics were at play with the lawsuit after Beshear’s former Deputy Attorney General Tim Longmeyer was charged with bribery from a previous stint in state government as the head of the Personnel Cabinet.

“As best we can make sense of his rambling press conference, we strongly disagree with the Attorney General and will respond as necessary in court,” Bevin said in a statement. “Given the amount of alleged corruption and personnel problems in the Office of Attorney General and his father’s administration it is clear that he is attempting to deflect attention away from his own challenges.”

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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