Politics

A court has ordered the release of $18 million back to Kentucky’s state colleges and universities after the state Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Matt Bevin’s mid-year cuts to higher education were illegal.

The $18 million, which will be released by Thursday, has been held in an escrow account since Attorney General Andy Beshear challenged Bevin’s executive order cutting higher education funding by 2 percent.

Though the state Supreme Court ruled last month that Bevin didn’t have the authority to cut funding that had already been budgeted by the legislature, the $18 million was in limbo while the court waited to see if Bevin would request for a the case to be heard again.

Bevin announced he would not seek another hearing of the case last week, and on Friday, the governor and attorney general agreed to release the funds back to state colleges and universities.

Bevin ordered the 2 percent mid-year cuts after negotiations for the two-year budget this spring to free up money for the state’s ailing pension systems. Higher education was cut by 4.5 percent in the two-year budget and most other state agencies and programs were cut by 9 percent.

The high court decision was a reversal of an earlier one made by Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate, who said that Bevin had the authority to unilaterally cut the budgets of state colleges and universities because they are part of the state’s executive branch, which Bevin is the head of.

Once the $18 million is divvied up among the higher education institutions, University of Kentucky will get $5,592,200 and University of Louisville will get $2,781,500.

Here’s a breakdown of how much money each institution will receive once funds are released:

  • Eastern Kentucky University: $1,360,700
  • Kentucky State University: not included in budget cuts
  • Morehead State University: $866,800
  • Murray State University: $960,500
  • Northern Kentucky University: $970,800
  • University of Kentucky: $5,592,200
  • University of Louisville: $2,781,500
  • Western Kentucky University: $1,493,000
  • KCTCS: $3,803,200

This story will be updated. 

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.