Politics

House Speaker Greg Stumbo is suing Gov. Matt Bevin, saying that he improperly vetoed several bills passed during this year’s legislative session.

Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, questioned the validity of vetoes to six bills, including line-item vetoes to the state budget, which he says were improperly delivered and signed.

He also says Bevin violated the constitution by not including “veto messages” that explain the rationale for several line-item vetoes to the state budget.

“The constitution clearly states that the message shall be accompanied with the veto so that people understand why or what his reasoning was when vetoing that particular part or parts of the appropriation bill,” he said.

If Stumbo’s suit is successful, Bevin’s line-item vetoes to the state budget would be reversed, meaning free preschool would be expanded from 160 percent to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and $840,000 would be set aside for the Louisville Waterfront Development Corporation and $7.5 million for indigent care in Jefferson County.

Bevin’s vetoes of the framework for a free community college program and higher education performance funding would also be reversed.

In a statement, Stumbo said that the lawsuit was not “adversarial.”

“I do think it highlights what I see as a clear separation-of-powers issue. We need to make sure nothing like this happens again,” he said.

Bevin is already being sued by Attorney General Andy Beshear, also a Democrat. Beshear says that Bevin violated the law by reducing funding to state colleges and universities by $18 million during the current fiscal year.

Bevin’s office issued a written statement to the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon:

“One month to the day that Attorney General Beshear filed his lawsuit, the Governor’s Office has been served with another petty political lawsuit. While we’re working to fix the financial situation of the Commonwealth, they are intent on thwarting progress by filing frivolous lawsuits. The Governor’s vetoes are valid and were filed in accordance with the Constitution. This charade is an unfortunate waste of taxpayer dollars.”

This story has been updated.

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