By Phillip Lentsch–
Governor Matt Bevin has been facing some issues in the Kentucky Supreme Court, after a ruling on Sept. 22 stated that he exceeded his authority last spring in ordering budget cuts to state universities.
In an opinion written by Justice Mary C. Noble, the Court concluded that Bevin “exceeded his statutory authority to revise allotments” for Kentucky state colleges’ financials.
“Whatever authority he (Bevin) might otherwise have to require a budget unit not to spend appropriated funds does not extend to universities, which the legislature has made independent bodies politic with control over their own expenditures,” Noble said.
Last spring, Bevin ordered that all state universities’ budgets were to be cut 4.5 percent during the 2015-16 fiscal year. Bevin later agreed to reduce the cuts to 2 percent, which totaled to about $18 million. The funds have since been held in a separate account, and their legal use has been pending a Kentucky Supreme Court ruling.
That ruling was heard today, in response to Attorney General Andy Beshear’s lawsuit challenging Bevin’s actions. Beshear – joined by Democratic state representatives Mary Lou Marzian, Darryl Owens and Jim Wayne – claimed that Bevin had no right to appropriate college funds for executive purposes.
“Today, the Supreme Court enforced Kentucky law, reminding us that the governor, like everyone, is bound by the law, “Beshear said in response to the ruling. “I am calling on Governor Bevin to immediately release the $18 million he wrongfully withheld from our public colleges and universities.”
A press release from the University of Louisville was also sent out via email in response to the ruling.
“As we have always done, the University of Louisville will work with the dollars approved by the legislature and governor. However, it is important for our university to plan ahead and not have unexpected cuts in our funding. This ruling gives state universities some measure of stability in planning and funding We expect to put the $2.78 million from last spring’s cut back into our operating budget to fund student success initiatives”
The ruling is the result of one of the many lawsuits Bevin is facing after a string of executive actions placed him in hot water with the Attorney General. Bevin’s order to reconstitute the board of trustees at the University of Louisville has also been controversial, and is still being drawn out in the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Amanda Stamper, the spokeswoman for Bevin’s office, said they would release an official statement on the ruling later today.