Politics

A Kentucky judge has ruled Republican Gov. Matt Bevin can cut the budgets of public colleges and universities without the approval of the state legislature.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate says two state laws allow Bevin to reduce allotments for public colleges and universities. Wingate ruled while the governor’s powers are usually confined to the state constitution, the legislature can give the governor additional powers by passing laws. He said Bevin’s cuts of nearly $18 million to colleges and universities this year are not improper.

Bevin proposed the cuts in January. The state legislature did not approve them. Bevin ordered the cuts anyway. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him.

Wingate ordered Bevin to leave the $18 million alone until the case has been resolved.

In a statement, Beshear said his office would appeal.

“While we respect Judge Wingate, his opinion is inconsistent with numerous decisions by the Supreme Court of Kentucky and confers dangerous levels of power on the governor,” he said. “We will be filing an immediate appeal of today’s decision and will seek to have the ruling transferred to the Supreme Court.”

Bevin praised the ruling in a statement.

“We appreciate that the court ruled as we anticipated, acknowledging that Attorney General Beshear’s position was ‘both an irresponsible one and an unsustainable one for a government to take,'” he said. “While others focus on politically motivated attacks, we continue to focus on strengthening Kentucky’s fiscal foundation.”