KY's Governor and Attorney General face-off in court over cuts to universities
At issue is Gov. Matt Bevin's authority to cut spending.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's Bevin vs. Beshear in a courtroom in Frankfort.
Kentucky’s Republican Governor and Democratic Attorney General are on opposite sides of a lawsuit.
There's much at stake here; not just millions of dollars in funding to the state's universities but, more importantly, the power of the governor.
Attorney General Andy Beshear argued the case himself.
"Every Supreme Court case on the issue says that power is solely for the legislature," Beshear told Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate.
At issue: whether Gov. Matt Bevin has the authority to cut funding to the state's universities during a budget year without a revenue shortfall and without approval from the General Assembly.
"That is entirely unconstitutional. It violates our liberty. It would mean he could defund the state police just because he felt like it,” Beshear told reporters after the hearing.
Also in court, State Treasurer Allison Ball, who is siding with the governor.
“The governor is not acting in some kind of bizarre, arbitrary way. That would be unconstitutional if he were acting that way. But he's not. He's doing what he's authorized to do under statute. He's actually acting as a responsible executive,” Ball told WDRB News..
The governor cut higher education funding by 2-percent to put more money into the ailing pension systems.
His attorney, Steve Pitt, arguing state law gives the governor the power to spend less - just not more - than the budget allows.
“This administration is about trying not to spend appropriated money, and have that money saved and lapse into the general fund so it can be used for other purposes, primarily the purpose of trying to get a start on solving this pension crisis,” Pitt said during an interview.
Beshear says giving a governor power over spending would create chaos.
“How would you ever rely on a budget and plan if it was just within how the governor feels that day and his whim,” he said.
The two sides do agree on one thing. The $18-million saved as a result of the cuts is being placed in a separate account so it can't be spent until the case is resolved.
Judge Wingate says he'll rule in a couple of weeks. But this case is headed, ultimately, to the Kentucky Supreme Court.
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