Attorney General Andy Beshear calls Gov. Matt Bevin's proposed budget cuts illegal
Beshear threatened to file suit if governor does not comply
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- Kentucky Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear is again threatening to sue Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.
Beshear said Bevin's plan to cut most state agencies by $350 million, or 17.4 percent, is illegal.
“As Attorney General, it is my duty to enforce the law,” said Beshear, as he insisted his challenge of the governor is not personal.
“I'm not here to attack anyone or continue any perceived feud,” he said.
Bevin wants to plug a projected $200 million shortfall in the state budget. But Beshear said the governor cannot make cuts until the state's official revenue forecast is released by the Consensus Forecasting Group in December.
“Kentucky law does not allow budget reductions before that time. The law says you simply can't do it,” said Beshear.
Beshear said Bevin's plan to use some of those cuts to replenish the state's rainy day emergency fund by $150 million is also illegal. Beshear said the law does not allow the governor to make cuts in excess of the projected revenue shortfall.
“The law on the rainy day fund does not allow funding from budget reductions,” he said.
The governor's office said it just wants agencies to prepare for the worst, and the proposed cuts outlined in a letter to agency heads from Budget Director John Chilton are, for now, recommendations, not orders.
Bevin’s Communications Director Amanda Stamper released the following statement:
"Kentucky families and businesses know they should not spend more than they make and having zero dollars in the bank to plan for emergencies is dangerous. Director Chilton's letter merely asked state agencies to draft a similar spending plan before any final decisions are made later in the year. Kentucky law clearly allows the Governor to ask any agency to reduce its spending, and the Kentucky Supreme Court said just last year that the Governor can direct spending reductions for agencies under his control. Thus, AG Beshear's grandstanding is not only fiscally irresponsible and nonsensical, but it is also contrary to the law. AG Beshear's latest threat to file yet another lawsuit against the Governor is premature and entirely political."
Beshear said he would not prefer not file a lawsuit, but added that, if necessary, he will take the governor to court for the fifth time.
“In the end, the law is the law, and it's my job to enforce it,” he said.
Beshear has asked the governor's office to respond to his concerns by Friday, Sept. 15.
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