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AG Beshear Files Lawsuit Challenging Governor’s Authority to Make Education Cuts

Western Kentucky Star

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear today filed a lawsuit in Franklin County Circuit Court challenging the authority by which Gov. Matt Bevin recently ordered 4.5 percent cuts in the current fiscal year to Kentucky’s public colleges and universities.

The lawsuit outlines how Gov. Bevin’s March 31 letter unilaterally cutting Kentucky’s postsecondary institutions is illegal – violating Kentucky’s constitutional provision of the separation of powers, as well as the governor’s constitutional duty to “faithfully execute” the law. The action by the governor further violates numerous Kentucky statutes that govern budget reductions and specifically violates the 2014-2016 Biennium Budget law, according to the lawsuit. 

“On Jan. 4, I put my hand on my family Bible and took an oath to defend our constitution. As Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that no public official acts outside his or her authority, regardless of position and regardless of party,” Beshear said. “And that duty is why today I filed suit against Gov. Bevin for his unconstitutional and illegal order cutting Kentucky’s public universities and colleges in this fiscal year.”

Beshear is asking the court for a permanent injunction to compel the governor to release the withheld appropriations to each university. The AG is requesting expedited review by the court to permit the universities to receive their appropriated funds to continue their planned operations on their campuses.

As the state’s top consumer advocate, Beshear said he has a responsibility to draw attention to how cuts to universities will be absorbed by current and future students through increases in tuition. And how a further reduction in enrollment will harm Kentucky’s economic future.

“The general welfare and material well-being of citizens of the Commonwealth depend in large measure upon the development of a well-educated and highly trained workforce,” Beshear said. “Those are not my words, they are Kentucky law – passed by the legislature and codified into law (KRS 164.003.) So in Kentucky, a university or community college education is not a privilege, it is a vital necessity for our economic survival. That’s not my opinion, that’s the law.”

Beshear said he is not filing the lawsuit willingly, but must do so to challenge the governor’s view of the law.

“Under his view, a budget is merely a suggestion and the legislature is merely an advisory body,” Beshear said. “The governor is claiming he can defund areas like the SEEK funds, the Kentucky State Police or the entire Kentucky Unified Prosecutorial System at any time for any reason.”

The Office of the Attorney General requested that the governor rescind his order within a 7-day timeframe in order to avoid litigation.

A copy of the lawsuit can be viewed at: http://ag.ky.gov/pdf_news/20160411_complaint.pdf

(story provided by Office of the Attorney General)

Paul Hitchcock earned his Masters in Communications from Morehead State University and Bachelors in Radio-TV/Psychology from Georgetown College. A veteran broadcaster for more than 40 years and an avid fan of blues, jazz and American roots music. Hitchcock has been with WMKY since 1986 and was named General Manager in 2003. He currently hosts "Muddy Bottom Blues" (Fri., 8pm-9pm), "Nothin' But The Blues" (Sat., 8pm-12am), "Sunday Night Jazz Showcase" and "Live From The Jazz Lounge" (Sun., 8pm-9pm) and "The Golden Age of Radio" (Sun., 2pm-3pm). He also serves as producer for "A Time For Tales" and "The Reader's Notebook."
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