FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A Kentucky Circuit Court judge has ruled that Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of public colleges and universities during the fiscal year and without the approval of the state legislature.
Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate says two state laws allow Bevin to reduce allotments for public colleges and universities. Wingate ruled while the governor's powers are usually confined to the state constitution, the legislature can give the governor additional powers by passing laws. He said Bevin's cuts of nearly $18 million to colleges and universities this year are not improper.
Bevin proposed the cuts in January. The state legislature did not approve them. Bevin ordered the cuts anyway. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him.
Wingate ordered Bevin to leave the $18 million alone until the case has been resolved.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Beshear issued a response to the ruling:
"While we respect Judge Wingate, his opinion is inconsistent with numerous decisions by the Supreme Court of Kentucky and confers dangerous levels of power on the governor," Beshear said in a written statement. "We will be filing an immediate appeal of today’s decision and will seek to have the ruling transferred to the Supreme Court. We always expected the Supreme Court to decide this matter, and we are confident that it will rule in our favor and hold that the budget is more than an advisory document."
Bevin also responded via a series of tweets:
We are grateful for court's prompt decision confirming our ability to manage the Commonwealth's finances in a fiscally responsible manner.— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) May 18, 2016
We appreciate that the court ruled as we anticipated, acknowledging that...— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) May 18, 2016
Attorney General Beshear's position was 'both an irresponsible one and an unsustainable one for a government to take.'— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) May 18, 2016
While others focus on politically motivated attacks, we continue to focus on strengthening Kentucky's fiscal foundation.— Governor Matt Bevin (@GovMattBevin) May 18, 2016
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