Beshear claims governor's planned spending cuts illegal

Beshear claims governor's planned spending cuts illegal”

Beshear argues Gov. Matt Bevin jumped the gun by ordering 17 percent cuts across most state agencies to fill a projected $200 million dollar spending gap.

"If the $200 million shortfall is not final, budget reductions can not start", Beshear said on Tuesday.

Beshear was in Bowling Green attending the Kentucky Sheriff's Association Convention.

"The second and larger problem is that Kentucky law is very clear that the governor can not use budget reductions to move money to the rainy day fund", said Beshear. "The law says you simply can't do it", said Beshear.

The administration told The Associated Press that the $200 million shortfall was a "planning estimate" of the Consensus Forecasting Group (CFG) - the panel of economists who project state revenues - but that projection would not be finalized until December, as they "can't wait until then to begin tightening the belt", according to a spokeswoman for Bevin. "Regardless, we know that the Rainy Day Fund can not be included in a plan that relies on budget reductions".

"As Attorney General, it is my duty to enforce the law", said Beshear, as he insisted his challenge of the governor is not personal.

"One part of his plan may be premature", Beshear said.

"I'm not here to attack anyone or continue any perceived feud", he said.

Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said the governor has authority to direct spending reductions for agencies in the executive branch that he controls.

In the four-page letter sent to Bevin and Chilton, Beshear requested they send a follow-up letter to the state agencies affected by September 15, since they asked for a budget reduction plan by September 25.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Beshear said that Bevin can't make the proposed $350 million in cuts because state law only allows a governor to unilaterally cut budgets if there is an estimated budget shortfall.

Stamper added that "AG Beshear's grandstanding is not only fiscally irresponsible and nonsensical, but it is also contrary to the law".

Additionally, Beshear stated that Bevin could not require budget reductions in excess of the official shortfall projections, meaning that even if there is a $200 million shortfall, he cannot reduce the budget by $150 million to replenish the Rainy Day Fund.

"If those two statutes aren't clear enough, the Kentucky Supreme Court a year ago in Beshear v. Bevin said two things: That budget reductions were only allowed under a budget reduction plan and are limited to the amount of the revenue shortfall".

The Bevin administration had asked agencies to submit a reduction plan to Chilton by September 25.

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