FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has ordered immediate 4.5 percent cuts in state funding to all public colleges and universities.
The order comes as state lawmakers are locked in a stalemate over a two-year state spending plan. House and Senate leaders broke off negotiations on Thursday because Senate Republicans insisted on budget cuts for higher education while Democrats refused.
Bevin first proposed his mid-year budget cuts in January as part of a plan to cut state spending by $650 million and use the savings to begin to pay down the state's public pension debt. The House and the Senate did not include Bevin's 4.5 percent mid-year cuts in their budget proposals. But Bevin, citing a state law that allows him to reduce allotments for executive branch agencies, cut their budgets anyway.
On Friday, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat, asked the governor to rescind the order.
"The governor's unilateral action in cutting the appropriated funding of colleges, universities and community colleges was outside of his authority," Beshear said. "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 withdrawal his order. We are confident he will comply."
Beshear said if the governor doesn't rescind the order, his office will resort to litigation.