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State Attorneys General, Grassroots Activists Pushing Back Against Cost Cutting Governors

April 13, 2016

Think Progress blogger Bryan Dewan wrote a post yesterday reporting a battle underway in KY where the Democrat State Attorney General Andy Beshar is suing the Tea Party Republican Governor Matt Bevin over the Governor’s decision to unilaterally cut the legislature’s adopted budget for public colleges by 4.5%. While the KY story has several layers of intrigue, the core issue is the Governor’s insistence that he has the power to make cuts to the legislature’s budget on his own, a power that the AG insists in unconstitutional. The KY story is complicated by political overtones, but the story in other states as noted in the concluding paragraphs of the story is more straightforward:

Beshear’s lawsuit against Bevin is the latest in a number of high-profile lawsuits involving education funding. In January, a coalition of cities, local school boards, and parents took the state of Connecticut to court, claiming that the state’s K-12 school-funding system is unconstitutional. And Detroit Public Schools is suing Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R), among others, over claims that the state is violating student’s civil rights through its emergency manager law, which places financial authority in unelected state bureaucrats.

School districts around the nation are facing major budget crises, as many state lawmakers nationwide have been unable to enact reforms addressing gaps in funding.

As more and more voters stay home on off-year elections, more and more states have turned over their leadership to hard line budget cutters like Matt Bevin and the result is that school districts and public post secondary schools are suffering crippling budget cuts…. and these cuts have the biggest impact on the children raised in poverty and the high school graduates who need to seek loans to pay for community colleges and public universities that are no longer affordable.

Thankfully activist AGs like Mr. Beshear and grass roots coalitions are standing up these governors who ignore their constitutional responsibilities in order to “starve the government schools” which, in some cases, they replace with privatized for profit enterprises. Alas, lawsuits often take years to get through the courts and, once the courts rule, the legislatures too often ignore their findings. The best solution to this gridlock that undercuts the activists efforts? Supporting State legislators who are willing to seek the funding needed to have robust public education from prekindergarten through college.

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