- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2016

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - A state judge said he is unlikely to settle a dispute over the University of Louisville board of trustees before the school has to decide on a budget and a tuition increase by July 1.

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin abolished the board last week and plans to replace it with a new board. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear has asked a state judge to block Bevin’s actions, and soon. The university must decide on a budget and whether to increase tuition by July 1.

A committee of the old board of trustees killed a 5 percent tuition increase earlier this month. But University President James Ramsey said that, until the school gets a new board, he will go forward with a “spending plan” that includes the 5 percent tuition increase. However, he said students can get that money back if they complete 30 hours of course work in one year.

“I have serious concerns with a university looking to raise tuition after the appropriate board of trustees voted it down in committee,” Beshear said. “I think there is a serious concern that students will pay more and we’ll never be able to undo that.”

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd described the timing of the dispute as “uncharted territory,” but said and said the university will have to continue functioning while the court sorts things out. He ordered the two sides to work together on a schedule to hear the lawsuit in one week.

Shepherd could decide to hear the University of Louisville lawsuit along with another lawsuit challenging Bevin’s abolishment and recreation of the Kentucky Retirement Systems board of trustees. In that lawsuit, former board chairman Thomas Elliott is challenging Bevin’s authority.

Shepherd said he had concerns about hearing the two cases together but did not make a decision during a hearing Thursday afternoon.

Steve Pitt, Bevin’s attorney, again cited a state law that gives the governor the power to reorganize state government “which may include creation, alteration or abolition of any state governmental body.” He noted the state legislature has to approve any action Bevin takes when it convenes again in January.

“It’s not for the court to say. It’s for the legislature to says,” Pitt said.

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