Kentucky Supreme Court will hear university funding cut case

06/27/2016 12:55 PM

The Kentucky Supreme Court will decide if Gov. Bevin has the ability to cut funding of state universities and colleges by 2 percent in the current fiscal year.

The high court ruled on Monday that the case, brought by Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, could skip the appeals court and head directly to the justices for review. Chief Justice John Minton has signed an order taking the case, and set a hearing for Aug. 18.

The lawsuit brought by Beshear and three state lawmakers: Reps. Jim Wayne, Mary Lou Marzian and Darryl Owens, all of Louisville, contends that Bevin violated the Kentucky Constitution by reducing education funding that was approved by the General Assembly in the state budget.

Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate ruled in May that Bevin has the authority to cut budget allotments under state law.

A spokesperson for Gov. Bevin expressed confidence in the high court agreeing with Franklin Circuit Court, that the Governor does have authority to make the cuts.

“The case involves the important question of whether the Governor has the same statutory power to reduce spending at our state’s public universities as he does with other state government budget units,” Bevin’s press secretary Amanda Stamper said in a statement. “We are confident that the Supreme Court will agree with the Franklin Circuit Court, that the Governor has such authority and that the Attorney General’s argument to the contrary is ‘both an irresponsible one and an unsustainable one for a government to take.‘”

Meanwhile, Beshear applauded the ruling by the Supreme Court to take the case.

“Today’s ruling will ensure Kentucky’s students and their families a quick and final decision concerning what I believe to be illegal and unconstitutional cuts to higher education,” Beshear said in a statement. “It is my hope that, if we prevail, the funds will be used to offset the increases in tuition that schools are passing to deal with Gov. Bevin’s massive education cuts.”

Rep. Jim Wayne, who has challenged previous governors over spending, argued that the Kentucky Constitution “assigns us the duty to use tax dollars where they are most needed.

“The stroke of one man’s pen can’t change this,” Wayne said in a statement. “I am pleased that the Court is taking this case up.”

Nearly $18 million that Bevin ordered cut from most university budgets has been set aside until the court rules in the case.


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