The Chatter: Education chief proposes lighter budget cuts, pre-abortion ultrasound law struck down

10/01/2017 09:00 AM

Kentucky Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt says students across the state will suffer if the Department of Education is forced to enact a third of the budget cuts proposed by Gov. Matt Bevin, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

The newspaper obtained a copy of Pruitt’s letter to Bevin’s administration, which lays out his plan to cut the agency’s spending by $22.8 million, about a third of than the $69.5 million Bevin’s budget chief called for earlier this month.

The administration had requested most state agencies to consider slashing their budgets by 17.4 percent to fill an anticipated $200 million hole in the current fiscal year’s budget and raise $150 million for the state’s Budget Reserve Trust Fund.

Pruitt’s proposal calls for $2.6 million less in operational expenses at the agency’s Frankfort headquarters, $8.2 million less for textbooks and instructional devices, $4.5 million less for teachers’ professional development, $7.4 million less for education-related grants and $4.5 million less for School Family Resource and Youth Service Centers, according to the Herald-Leader report.

Pruitt wrote that going beyond his proposed spending cuts would “jeopardize the ability of districts to provide that (constitutionally guaranteed) education.”

Woody Magliner, Bevin’s press secretary, told the Herald-Leader that agencies should plan for budget reductions in light of expected revenue shortfalls and higher pension contributions, but he noted that no final decisions have been made regarding current-year cuts.

Federal judge rules pre-abortion screening law unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge David Hale has ruled the state’s new law requiring doctors to perform pre-abortion ultrasounds and share the results with patients violates physicians’ rights to free speech.

Hale issued the ruling Wednesday, prompting supporters of the law to promise appeals while opponents of the measure praised Hale’s ruling.

Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s communications director, said the administration would appeal the ruling to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Hale wrote in his ruling that the law, which passed the General Assembly this year, is meant “to dissuade women from choosing abortion by forcing ultrasound images, detailed descriptions of the fetus and the sounds of the fetal heartbeat on them, against their will, at a time when they are most vulnerable,” according to a report by the Courier Journal.

U of L Foundation examining salaries before taking legal action

WDRB reports that the University of Louisville Foundation attorneys are considering whether compensation granted during former President Jim Ramsey’s tenure were “reasonable” as they contemplate legal action.

The foundation’s deferred compensation program was a subject of scrutiny by forensic auditors as they examined the agency’s finances. The program paid top administrators $22 million over the previous five years, with Ramsey collecting the lion’s share of deferred compensation at $8.8 million.

Earl Reed, a foundation board member and chair of a committee exploring the agency’s legal options in light of the blistering audit released in June, said during a board meeting Thursday that the foundation retained “outside expert assistance” to examine the “reasonableness” of its compensation structure ahead of potential legal action, according to WDRB.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers Kentucky politics and all the goings-on at the State Capitol. Kevin was born and raised in Frankfort so he grew up around politics and has always had the drive to follow the political process and hold lawmakers accountable. Before joining Spectrum News Kevin covered government and politics for The State Journal in Frankfort. You can watch Kevin’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135.

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