Attorney general's lawsuit against governor goes to court

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear's lawsuit against Governor Matt Bevin went before a judge Thursday morning.

Governor Matt Bevin did not appear in the courtroom. However, his co-defendants State Budget Director John Chilton and State Treasurer Allison Ball were present.

Beshear said this morning today's hearing was the first step in what he believes will be a process, however not a long process. The Franklin Circuit Court judge presiding over the case said he plans to make a decision in 10-15 days.

Among those motions was a request by three democratic state representatives who want to join the lawsuit. An attorney for Governor Bevin argued allowing the lawmakers to join would create a dangerous precedent as it would allow single legislators to sue a branch of government.

The Governor's attorneys have also filed a motion for the case to be dismissed. Attorney Steve Pitt told the court the lawsuit was premature and that the governor had the right to make changes to funding, specifically citing KRS 48.620.

"The Governor, Chief Justice, LRC ... depending which branch is at issue has the right to advise allotments downward. You've got to understand difference between appropriation and allotment. The legislature appropriates money," explained Pitt.

While Bevin was absent from court, the Governor's counsel making their stance for dismissal of the case arguing it is premature .... something Bevin's co-defendant State Treasurer Allison Ball echoed

"We are here prematurely, if we are here prematurely ... we must be here for political reasons," said Ball.

Ball also agrees Bevin has standing for his actions, "Statutes the Governor is relying on he has full authority to do what he is doing. Even when we get to the right in this issue I feel very comfortable that the Governor is going to continue acting under those statutes. As a believer of separation of powers the executive has a role and the executive is performing his role and he is performing it the way he is supposed to."

Another point made by the Governor's representation, that no universities ... the ones they call the injured parties in this all ... were not on hand to testify and have not filed their own lawsuit.

Governor Bevin's lead counsel, Steve Pitt, claiming that is because they reached a deal with the Governor, an agreement he made good on this week reducing the cuts from 4.5 percent to 2 percent.

However, Beshear says that is an agreement he questions and feels could have been pressured.

"Agreement specifically says they agree with two percent cuts if the court allows it ... why would they put that in there? Because those presidents know it is illegal to make cuts during the fiscal year," said Beshear.

Earlier this month, Beshear sued Bevin over the governor's executive order, which would mean cuts to education, without waiting for the legislature's approval. The order called for a 4.5 percent spending cut to Kentucky's public colleges and universities. Beshear called the governor's cut illegal and unconstitutional.

The attorney general says his lawsuit against Bevin is not personal. It's about the law, Beshear said.




Attorney General Andy Beshear and other members of his legal team arrived in court on April 21st as part of a lawsuit filed against Governor Matt Bevin. Photo taken by Hillary Thornton.


 
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