Story by Kayla Harrell, News Editor
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear says he will sue Gov. Matt Bevin in Franklin Circuit Court as early as Friday if the Republican governor does not rescind his immediate 4.5 percent budget cut to public colleges and universities.
Beshear said the governor’s action was illegal and outside of his authority.
“The law on budget reductions is straightforward. It requires a declared shortfall that does not exist. If it did, the last budget bill that was passed and signed into law dictates the steps that must be taken. We are therefore requesting the governor withdraw his order. We are confident he will comply,” said Beshear, a Democrat, in his official statement on the governor’s budget cuts.
President Bob Davies sent out a statement after Bevin announced the immediate budget cuts and said the 4.5 percent cut represent $2.16 million for Murray State.
“We recognize that our Governor, and all state leaders, face many difficult decisions, especially as they deal with the pension crisis that is hampering our state,” Davies said. “This remains a very fluid situation. While Murray State University leaders are discussing and planning for the possibility of these proposed budget cuts, we remain optimistic that our state leaders will continue to support higher education.”
Kathy Callahan, history department chairwoman, said the attorney general raised one of the questions she had about the immediate cuts – if it is legal.
“Time will tell about the legality of it,” Callahan said. “As a faculty member, I am concerned about the implications it will have for our budget and our ability to finish out the year.”
Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo told to Lexington Herald-Leader the Democratic House lacks standing to sue, but he thought a university employee or possibly a student could sue and be successful.
Murray State students said they are frustrated at state leaders.
“It is just disappointing that our education isn’t a priority to them,” said Cameron McRoberts, freshman from Vernon, Kentucky.
McRoberts said she hopes Murray will do all it can to make sure the students come first.
No university, faculty member or student has come forward yet to pursue a lawsuit against Bevin. Beshear gave the governor on April 1 until the end of the week to rescind his action.
“The university has been preparing to respond for several weeks now, ever since he made the announcement that is what he wanted to do,” Callahan said. “There’s been plans put forward about what to do and I think we can do it but it means tightening everyone’s belts across the board.”
Davies has said throughout the spring semester since Bevin first proposed higher education cuts the values of Murray State will remain intact.
“I want to reemphasis the importance of investing in higher education, and Murray State specifically, as we are a catalyst for future growth throughout the commonwealth,” Davies said. “Above all, we will remain committed to our vision of being a nationally-recognized university, noted for our student-centered values.”