Story by Alicia Steele, Assistant News Editor
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled 5-2 today that Gov. Matt Bevin does not have the legal right to cut the budget of state universities.
The court said Bevin did not have the authority to make the cuts because there was no budget shortfall in the final quarter of the 2015-16 fiscal year.
Murray State was one of the eight institutions of higher education in Kentucky that had funds withheld from Bevin’s original budget.
“Today’s Kentucky Supreme Court decision represents a sum of $960,000 that was included in the previous fiscal year’s appropriation for Murray State University but rescinded from the final quarterly allotment. As we do with all state funds, if these funds are released, the monies will be used to advance the rigor, relevance and excellence of our academic programs for the benefit of our students,” according to a statement released by Murray State officials.
Attorney General Andy Beshear applauded the court’s ruling.
“Based on today’s ruling, I am calling on Gov. Matt Bevin to immediately release the $18 million he wrongfully withheld from our public colleges and universities,” Beshear said in a statement on kentucky.gov. “It is time for him to stop attacking and to instead join me in building a better Kentucky.”
In a statement released on Bevin’s official Twitter account, Press Secretary Amanda Stamper said the governor is disappointed in the court’s decision and disagrees with the reasoning behind it.
“The attorney general clearly does not understand the severity of the pension problem, which became the nation’s worst-funded plan under the watch of his father’s administration,“ Stamper said.
Bevin said he remains committed to fixing Kentucky’s pension crisis.
“This administration will continue to use every available tool to solve our pressing financial problem,” Stamper said.