Kentucky high court says governor illegally cut university budgets

Supreme Court decision says Gov. Matt Bevin exceeded his authority when he ordered a 2 percent cut in state universities' budgets.

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin’s exceeded his statutory authority earlier this year when he cut state universities’ budgets by 2 percent after the General Assembly had already appropriated the funding.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that the court's 5-2 ruling reverses a May 18 decision by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate. He said the state’s universities and colleges were part of the executive branch of government and that Bevin has the power to reduce budget allotments to units within that branch.

Kentucky’s high court disagreed.

“By reducing the final quarterly allotment, the governor has essentially frustrated the overall appropriation by the General Assembly,” the opinion says. “Money that the General Assembly made available to the universities through its appropriations was made unavailable by the governor’s actions.

The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear. He argued that the governor violated the state constitution’s separation of powers by usurping legislative power over the budget.

Bevin issued an order in April that funding to state universities and community colleges be cut by 4.5 percent. Those cuts subsequently were reduced to 2 percent.

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