Politics

Gov. Matt Bevin has not asked the Kentucky Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling against his mid-year cuts to higher education institutions. That means about $18 million in state funds that Bevin had cut are a step closer to being released to Kentucky’s state colleges and universities.

Last month, the state’s highest court ruled that Bevin didn’t have the authority to reduce the allotment that the state had already budgeted to give to higher education institutions.

Amanda Stamper, Bevin’s press secretary, said that Bevin still believes the court “erred in its decision” in the lawsuit, which was brought on Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.

“This was a bad decision for Kentucky and the ramifications from Attorney General’s political lawsuit could be significant,” Stamper said. “Moody’s called the decision a ‘credit negative’ for Kentucky because it limits Governor Bevin’s ability to manage difficult budget scenarios in light of Kentucky’s $35 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.”

Stamper said the governor “remains committed to fighting to protect the pensions of teachers and state workers and making Kentucky a more attractive place for jobs.”

The 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.

Now that Bevin has declined to ask for the case to be reconsidered, the case heads back to Franklin Circuit Court. Wingate would have to rule to release the $18 million that Bevin cut from state colleges and universities, which is currently still held in an escrow account.

Beshear called Bevin’s decision not to ask for the case to be reconsidered a “victory for the rule of law in the Commonwealth.”

“As the Supreme Court noted, everyone, even the governor, is bound by the law,” Beshear said. “This money is needed to offset the damage to our students, faculty and their families caused by Gov. Bevin’s massive education cuts. The governor should immediately release these funds.”

This spring, Bevin approved a two-year budget that cuts higher education institutions by 4.5 percent for two years.

The cuts were made to free up more money to put into the state’s ailing pension systems, which combined have around $35 billion in unfunded liabilities.

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