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With Bevin Lawsuit in Tow, Beshear to Speak in Northern Kentucky

Fresh off the announcement that he is challenging in court the authority of Governor Matt Bevin to order immediate cuts to higher education, Attorney General Andy Beshear will be in Park Hills on Friday.

The first-term Democrat elected last November will speak at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Government Forum Luncheon at the Gardens of Park Hills.

“On Jan. 4, I put my hand on my family Bible and took an oath to defend our constitution. As Attorney General, it is my duty to ensure that no public official acts outside his or her authority, regardless of position and regardless of party,” Beshear said in a statement this week announcing the lawsuit. “And that duty is why today I filed suit against Gov. Bevin for his unconstitutional and illegal order cutting Kentucky’s public universities and colleges in this fiscal year.”

As the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives and Republican-controlled Senate continue creep towards overtime in the 2016 General Assembly session with no consensus on a budget, Bevin, a Republican, bypassed the traditional process and ordered 4.5 percent cuts across the board at Kentucky's public colleges and universities, including Northern Kentucky University and Gateway Community & Technical College.

Bevin is seeking 9 percent cuts for the budget year and 4.5 percent the year after. He wrote a letter on March 31 mandating the immediate cuts. 

“The general welfare and material well-being of citizens of the Commonwealth depend in large measure upon the development of a well-educated and highly trained workforce,” Beshear said. “Those are not my words, they are Kentucky law – passed by the legislature and codified into law (KRS 164.003.) So in Kentucky, a university or community college education is not a privilege, it is a vital necessity for our economic survival. That’s not my opinion, that’s the law.”

Beshear said he is not filing the lawsuit willingly, but must do so to challenge the governor’s view of the law.

“Under his view, a budget is merely a suggestion and the legislature is merely an advisory body,” Beshear said. “The governor is claiming he can defund areas like the SEEK funds, the Kentucky State Police or the entire Kentucky Unified Prosecutorial System at any time for any reason.”

Beshear offered Bevin 7 days to rescind his order and to avoid litigation.

If you go: Attorney General Andy Beshear at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Government Forum, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., The Gardens of Park Hills (1622 Dixie Hwy., Park Hills). Click here to register.

-Staff report