LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin exceeded his authority when he attempted to cut the budgets of Kentucky colleges and universities.
The ruling states that:
The Governor's reduction of the allotments of the Universities in this case exceeded his statutory authority to revise allotments under KRS 48.620(1) and his authority to withhold allotments under KRS 45.253(4). Whatever authority he might otherwise have to require a budget unit not to spend appropriated funds dose not extend to the Universities, which the legislature has made independent bodies politic with control over their own expenditures. We therefore do not reach the question of whether his actions were constitutional, as the statutes do not give him the authority to act as he proposed. For these reasons, the Franklin Circuit Court's order upholding the Governor's actions is reversed, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
In issuing the ruling, the court sided with Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, who argued that Bevin had exceeded his authority by attempting to implement the budget cuts.
Two Kentucky Supreme Court justices dissented from the 5-2 majority opinion.
Bevin's press secretary, Amanda Stamper, released a statement Thursday afternoon responding to the ruling.
We are disappointed in the Court’s decision today and strongly disagree with its reasoning. The Attorney General clearly does not understand the severity of the pension problem which became the nation's worst funded plan under the watch of his father's administration.
Today's ruling only affects $18 million of the universities' overall budgets which is 0.0027 of their annual $6.6 billion expenditures. Nonetheless, we have to be vigilant about every taxpayer dollar spent if we are going to solve our pension crisis.
The Commonwealth's public universities have thousands of employees who participate in our pension system and, having such a large stake, should be part of the solution to fix the state's $35 billion underfunded pension liability. Gov. Bevin recognizes that preserving our retirement systems for state workers and retirees is both a legal and moral obligation.
We remain determined to fix Kentucky's pension crisis, no matter the opposition. This administration will continue to use every available tool to solve our pressing financial problem.
Shortly after the ruling was made public, Beshear issued a statement:
Today, the Supreme Court enforced Kentucky law, reminding us that "the governor, like everyone, is bound by the law." Based on today's ruling, I am calling on Gov. Bevin to immediately release the $18 million he wrongfully withheld from our public colleges and universities. As the court stated, it is my job as Attorney General "to vindicate the public rights of the people of the Commonwealth," and I will continue to do so. I am also calling on the governor's office to use today's ruling as a turning point. It is time for him to stop attacking, and to instead join me in building a better Kentucky. We live in a state where far too many of our children are abused. Our seniors face daily scams that seek to rob them of their hard-earned savings. Thousands of victims of sexual assault have been denied justice based on our rape kit backlog. And our communities face the most deadly drug epidemic imaginable. These are the problems Kentuckians expect us to address, and they are problems that all of us -- democrats, republicans or independents -- can address together. So I would hope that after today, the nasty press releases and name-calling stop, and the governor joins us for the real work that needs to be done to help Kentucky families.
Here is a copy of the Kentucky Supreme Court's opinion:
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