The Kentucky State attorney general sued the state’s Republican governor in an effort to stop supposedly illegal funding cuts to public universities. This, of course, is just the most recent coming at odds in a state presently strapped for education funding.
In this lawsuit, the state AG asks a Franklin County Circuit Court to block the order presented by Kentucky state Governor Matt Bevin, made last month, which request funding cuts to colleges and universities by approximately 4.5 percent; to the tune of $41 million.
Attorney General [Democrat] Andy Beshear, notes that these cuts will violate budget laws as well as the separation of powers detailed within the state’s constitution. In a statement, he notes, “Under [the governor’s] view, a budget is merely a suggestion and the legislation is merely an advisory body.”
Beshear presents the lawsuit amidst state congress’ current budget negotiations for the 2017 – 2018 fiscal year; only 11 days after Bevin sidestepped the General Assembly in order to direct his finance cabinet to hold back on the distribution of the education funds in question.
Beshear is among the state’s top consumer advocates. As such, he says, his responsibility is to focus on the efficacy of such cuts in terms of how they are absorbed by current and future students, usually through tuition increases. Furthermore, he says, he must analysis how this might affect potential future enrollment and the overall economic future of the state.
Beshear comments, “The general welfare and material well-being of citizens of the Commonwealth depend in large measure upon the development of a well-educated and highly trained workforce. Those are not my words, they are Kentucky law – passed by the legislature and codified into law (KRS 164.003.) So in Kentucky, a university or community college education is not a privilege, it is a vital necessity for our economic survival. That’s not my opinion, that’s the law.”
In Bevin’s defense, however, he claims the cuts are only part of his plan to cut out approximately $650 million over the next two years in an effort to reduce upwards of $35 billion in public pension debts. In addition, this reduction only accounts for roughly 1.1 percent of university operating revenues of $5.2 billion.