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Local/Regional News

Board Actions Another Test Of Bevin's Authority

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Josh James
/
WUKY

Kentucky's Republican governor said Tuesday he has "absolute authority" to disband any of the states' nearly 400 boards and commissions as the state's Democratic attorney general hints at possible legal action.

Gov. Matt Bevin last week abolished the board of trustees at the University of Louisville and the Kentucky Retirement Systems, only to recreate them with some new members.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has called Bevin's actions "unprecedented." He has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to discuss Bevin's decisions, potentially announcing a lawsuit against the state's highest elected officer.

Beshear and Bevin are already in court, fighting over whether Bevin has the authority to cut $18 million from college and university budgets that were approved by the state legislature.

Faculty Backlash

47 University of Louisville faculty members are looking to block Bevin’s executive order dissolving the school’s board and creating a new one.

The move could be a prelude to yet another legal battle over Bevin’s authority, with the governor’s office expressing confidence that state law affords the chief executive the power to abolish the board while critics point another statute saying the governor can only remove board members for cause.

"You're not giving any due process and you're, I think, potentially setting the universities on a dangerous track that says I can get rid of anybody at any time for any reason,"  Democratic Louisville Sen. Morgan McGarvey told WLKY-TV.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the concerned faculty fear Bevin’s actions will create a governance crisis at U of L and put the school’s accreditation in jeopardy. They’re asking board members to seek an injunction halting their dismissal.

In his announcement of the executive orders last week, the governor characterized the board as operationally dysfunctional.