Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Bevin’s cut to higher education funding illegal


Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin addressed the Commonwealth with his budget for the next two years on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Capitol building in Frankfort. The budget included a $110 million cut from UK’s state general funding over the next two years.

Sara Nederhoed

The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Gov. Matt Bevin’s executive order to cut funding to universities illegal Thursday afternoon. 

Bevin’s mid-year decision calling for a 2 percent budget cut in May has been reversed in the state’s Supreme Court with a 5-2 ruling, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The budget cuts affected the state’s public colleges and universities including UK. In response to the cuts, UK would eliminate 75 jobs, the Herald-Leader reported. 

In May, Franklin Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate stated that the budget cuts were, in fact, apart of Bevin’s executive power.

Thursday, the Supreme Court stated that the state colleges and universities are considered to be independent with control over their own expenses. Bevin’s call for budget cuts was illegal and not a part of his executive order to make these cuts, according to Supreme Court ruling.

“Simply put, there is a difference between exercising an authority not to spend money once it has been made available and preventing the money from being made available to the entity that has the power to decide not to spend it,” the ruling said. 

UK would have seen a near $2 million deficit in budget cuts in order to accommodate with Bevin’s previous call for cuts being made that were to secure the state’s pension system.

The university will now receive around $5.6 million return that will be funneled into securing student success particularly dealing with retention and graduation rates, according to UK Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday. 

Kentucky’s high court ruling will bring about a one-time payout to each university or college that was affected by the budget cuts.

“The Supreme Court’s ruling today provides all the state’s universities a greater sense of certainty in our budget planning process as we all move forward,” Monday said. 

Attorney General Andy Beshear deemed the reversal a turning point for Bevin and called on him to stop ambushing the people and universities of Kentucky and start helping them.

Bevin has 20 days to respond to the ruling and ask for a rehearing, but a spokeswoman for Bevin did not acknowledge a plan in doing so in her speech regarding the Supreme Courts reversal. She said that Bevin and his team are disappointed in the ruling and do not agree with the Supreme Courts arguments.

Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo are confident that the Supreme Court ruling Bevin’s cuts illegal will turn into a snowball effect for Bevin.

“I predict today’s decision is the first of what will be a series of Kentucky Supreme Court rulings against Gov. Bevin’s illegal actions,” Stumbo said.