Attorney General's lawsuit against Governor back in court

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - The Attorney General's lawsuit against Governor Matt Bevin was back in Franklin County Circuit Court on Wednesday.

Bevin has cut state spending by nearly $18 million for colleges and universities this year. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear sued him, arguing he does not have the authority to cut the budget without the approval of the state legislature. Bevin's attorneys have asked a judge to dismiss the suit.

The Governor's attorney started Wednesday's hearing, focusing on difference in terms appropriation and allocation. Bevin's lead counsel, Steve Pitt, explaining that they agree the only entity allowed to appropriate money is the General Assembly. However, they say once the spending ceiling is set KRS 48620 gives the Governor the ability to spend less than that ceiling, making downward revisions where he deems necessary.

Pitt says the governor is hoping to get rid of the use it or lose it mindset, "Let's don't just spend all this money because it has been appropriated let's try and save some of it and help this pension crisis."

Bevin's counsel also agreeing that while the Governor hopes the cuts help fund the state's pension problem, he does not have power to pick where the money specifically goes. Pitt went on to explain that it must go into general fund until the next legislature can decide its purpose.

"Governor can and should release these funds. It is 18.7 million dollars that is critical to the universities and is not going to really change the overall numbers for next year's budget and as the Governor's general counsel admitted today it will just sit," said Andy Beshear.

Beshear arguing allowing the cuts gives power outside of the Governor's authority, also claiming what the Governor's counsel calls a downward revision is in fact a reduction then showing a release from the governor that used the term 'budget reduction' in the title.

After the hearing Attorney General Beshear once again saying this lawsuit is not personal despite the growing feud between Bevin and the Beshears

"It is not personal, it is about duty. I put my hand on my family Bible and swore an oath to protect the constitution. I truly believe the Governor's actions violate the constitution and therefore I have no choice but to take action," said Beshear.

A decision was not made in court today, however Beshear said he hoped to have a ruling in one to two weeks. He also said he expects this case to move on to the Supreme Court.

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