13 September, 2017
Attorney General Andy Beshear said Tuesday there are "serious and significant legal problems" with Gov. Matt Bevin's request last week for 17.4 percent budget cuts in most state agencies.
Beshear said Tuesday Bevin's plan is illegal because it would cut state spending by $350 million while the state faces a potential shortfall of $200 million.
Beshear was in Bowling Green attending the Kentucky Sheriff's Association Convention. "We do not have an official shortfall as required under Kentucky law".
"For the first time a family could safely dispose of them at home with a deactivation pouch in one minute, fully deactivates the drug, entirely safe for the environment". But Beshear said the letter was "a statement of law" and not his opinion, fiscal policy or "any attempt to attack you".
"In the end, the law is the law, and it's my job to enforce it", he said.
Last month, the state's Consensus Forecasting Group made an initial prediction that this year the state would bring in a little more than $10.6 billion in revenue instead of the more than $10.8 billion initially estimated. "Regardless, we know that the Rainy Day Fund can not be included in a plan that relies on budget reductions".
However, Beshear stated today in his press conference - and in a letter to Bevin and Chilton - that state law prohibits such budget reductions from going forth until either the revenue shortfalls are official at the end of the fiscal year, or once the CFG makes the shortfall projections official in December.
Asked if he plans to submit a reduction plan for his office by September 25, Beshear said he would if it follows the law. If it is finalized, $200 million is the maximum reduction that is allowed.
The governor's office said it just wants agencies to prepare for the worst, and the proposed cuts outlined in a letter to agency heads from Budget Director John Chilton are, for now, recommendations, not orders.
Bevin spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said the governor has authority to direct spending reductions for agencies in the executive branch that he controls. Director Chilton's letter merely asked state agencies to draft a similar spending plan before any final decisions are made later in the year.
Beshear said Bevin's actions were based on a "planning estimate" that is neither official nor final. Thus, AG Beshear's grandstanding is not only fiscally irresponsible and nonsensical, but it is also contrary to the law.
Bevin tried to cut state university budgets by $18 million a year ago, but the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that he couldn't without an estimated or actual budget shortfall.