The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents has approved a $402 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Fifty-one-percent of the budget is funded by student tuition and fees. The new spending plan includes a 4.5 percent tuition increase, and factors in a 4.5 percent reduction in state funding.

Student regent Jay Todd Richey cast the lone vote against the budget. In a prepared statement read before the vote, the Glasgow native said he couldn’t support certain parts of the plan, including a reduction in funding for the Track and Field program.

Speaking to reporters after the budget was passed 8-1, Rickey said many WKU students believe the burden of decreased state funding for higher education isn’t being shouldered evenly.


Kentucky officials say General Motors Corp. plans to invest $290 million at the automaker's Corvette plant in Bowling Green.

The company's North American manufacturing manager, Arvin Jones, said Friday the investment includes technology upgrades to improve the plant's manufacturing process. It could also create as many as 270 new jobs.

The investment announcement was made by Gov. Matt Bevin's office in Frankfort.

Bevin's office says the investment includes a $153 million project aimed at improving vehicle assembly line processes. The latest investment follows a series of upgrades and expansions in recent years at the Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green.

To encourage the investment, Kentucky officials recently gave preliminary approval for GM to qualify for up to $3 million in tax incentives, based on the level of investment and job creation.

flickr/creative common/Rand Snyderman

Appalachian music patriarch Ralph Stanley, who helped expand and popularize the bluegrass sound, has died. He was 89.

His publicist, Kirt Webster, says Stanley died Thursday.

Stanley was born and raised in southwest Virginia. He and brother Carter formed the Stanley Brothers and their Clinch Mountain Boys in 1946. The brothers fused Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe's rapid rhythms with the mountain folk of groups such as the Carter Family, and added a distinctive three-part harmony. Carter Stanley died of liver disease in 1966.

Ralph Stanley's a cappella dirge "O Death" from the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" movie soundtrack introduced him to a new generation of fans in 2000.

He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 2000 and won a Grammy for best male country vocal performance in 2002.

Ryland Barton

The latest legal challenge against Gov. Matt Bevin had its first hearing Thursday — Attorney General Andy Beshear is attempting to join a lawsuit contesting Bevin’s reorganization of the Kentucky Retirement Systems board, which manages retirement funds for state workers.

Beshear is also trying to challenge Bevin’s overhaul of the University of Louisville board of trustees in the same move, arguing that both reorganizations should be tried at the same time.

During the hearing, Franklin Circuit Court Judge Philip Shephard voiced appreciation of the governor’s desire to fix problems, but cautioned against overstepping legal bounds.

“It’s incumbent on the governor to take action, to do something about, to take leadership on,” Shephard said. “But it’s also important that the methods that are used are in compliance with the statutes and with the Constitution.


A legal scholar at Western Kentucky University says Thursday's Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action is good for the country’s college classrooms.  

The high court upheld the affirmative action program at the University of Texas.

WKU History Professor Patricia Minter says having a diverse student body creates a better learning environment for everyone.

“As much as we empathize with the struggles of others, we sometimes need to let groups and people speak for themselves about their own lived experience.”

Opponents of affirmative action programs have argued that factors like race, ethnicity, and gender shouldn’t factor into university admissions policies.

Minter says Thursday’s high court ruling isn’t necessarily the last Supreme Court decision regarding affirmative action. She says the country’s racial and ethnic makeup is rapidly changing, and those factors could lead to future court challenges.

You can hear Minter’s conversation with WKU Public Radio by clicking on the “Listen” button above.

Alix Mattingly

The Kentucky community college system reassigned its top attorney earlier this month to a newly created “special assistant” position soon after wrapping up a monthslong investigation of his office behavior.

J. Campbell Cantrill III will serve as “special assistant to the president for policy review and revision” until he retires next summer, according to a settlement reached with the Kentucky Community & Technical College System on June 1. He will continue to draw the $137,314 annual salary he received as general counsel.

Cantrill, who served as KCTCS’ legal chief since 2008, had been placed on administrative leave with pay and barred from the system’s headquarters in Versailles and its email system on Feb. 26. In a letter sent to him that day by KCTCS President Jay Box, Cantrill was told he was being investigated for possible violations of system policies, including those that cover harassment, ethical values and use of information technology.

The letter cited “multiple reports” of violations by Cantrill but did not provide any details. KCTCS hired an outside attorney, Keith Moorman of Frost Brown Todd in Lexington, to investigate the matter.

flicker/creative commons/Pascal Gaudette

It's almost impossible not to play with a kitten, but a scratch from one could lead to trouble.

According to Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Iass El Lakkis of The Medical Center in Bowling Green, Cat Scratch Fever is usually mild but, in rare cases, can lead to hospitalization for eye problems, disorientation or liver infection. "Mostly patients will have skin swelling, small bumps or redness, usually three to ten days after they're exposed," he said.

More often than not, though, Cat Scratch Fever is treated with simple antibiotics and lingers for about three to four weeks.

John Yarmuth is sitting down on the job.  
 The Third District Democrat is participating in a sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House in an effort to force the Republican majority to skip a week long recess and take up gun control legislation.  
Yarmuth says between 50 to 75 democrats are participating in the sit-in that prompted the Speaker Pro Tem to call the chamber out of order.

He says as the minority, this is the only option available to them to force action on the legislation.  
Yarmuth says the plans for the sit in started Monday night and wrapped up Tuesday afternoon. 

J. Tyler Franklin

Attorney General Andy Beshear is suing Gov. Matt Bevin for abolishing and then reinstating the boards of trustees of both the University of Louisville and Kentucky Retirement Systems, the state agency that manages the pensions of most state employees.

Bevin appointed new members and changed the number of seats on each panel. In both cases, Bevin said the moves were made to achieve a “fresh start.”

Bevin has reorganized several boards in recent months, including the Kentucky Horse Park Commission, Kentucky Racing Commission and the Workers’ Compensation Nominating Commission.

A group of labor unions and injured workers have sued Bevin for his overhaul of the workers’ compensation board, which nominates administrative law judges to oversee workers’ compensation cases.

Ryland Barton, WKU Public Radio

At a news conference Wednesday morning in Frankfort, Gov. Matt Bevin announced his much-anticipated plan to remake the state’s expanded Medicaid system.

Under the plan, which would require federal approval, Kentuckians who earn between 34 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty line would be required to pay fixed premiums for the insurance. The premiums will range from $1 to $15 for “able-bodied adults,” according to Mark Birdwhistell, University of Kentucky HealthCare’s vice president for administration and external affairs who is heading up the state’s waiver process

Bevin said requiring users to pay premiums would give them “dignity and respect.”

Bevin also said the changes would save the state $2.2 billion.

The program will be called Kentucky H.E.A.L.T.H., which stands for “Helping to Engage and Achieve Long-Term Health.”

Bevin Claims 'Absolute Authority' to Disband State Boards

Jun 21, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky's governor says he has "absolute authority" to disband any of the states' nearly 400 boards and commissions.

Tuesday’s comments by Republican Matt Bevin come as the state's Democratic attorney general hints at possible legal action.

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.

Attorney General Andy Beshear has called Bevin's actions "unprecedented."

He has scheduled a news conference 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.

Kentucky Clerk Asks Court to Dismiss Gay Marriage Lawsuit

Jun 21, 2016
Ryland Barton

A Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is asking a federal appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit against her.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis says a new state law taking effect next month should be applied retroactively.

Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively legalized gay marriage last year. Two gay couples and two straight couples sued her. A federal judge ordered herto issue the licenses, but she refused and went to jail.

The Kentucky legislature approved a new law in April removing the county clerks' names and authorizations from state marriage licenses. Davis said the law accommodates her religious beliefs and makes the lawsuit against her unnecessary.

A hearing has been set for next month.

public domain

Poverty grips more than a quarter of Kentucky’s kids.

About 260,000 children in Kentucky live in poverty, and more are living in pockets of poverty across the state than in years prior, according to the 2016 Kids Count report.

The report is produced by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and co-released with Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, called this year’s findings bad news for Kentucky’s kids and families. The state ranks 35th in the overall economic well-being of children, per the report. That’s a slightly worse ranking than in 2015, Brooks said.

“Are we, as a commonwealth, content with being in the bottom third of states when it comes to child well-being,” he said.

Gov. Bevin Forms Criminal Justice Task Force

Jun 21, 2016
Creative Commons

Gov. Matt Bevin says he wants Kentucky to “lead the way” on criminal justice reform and has appointed a council tasked with producing legislative ideas for next year’s General Assembly.

The 23-member committee includes state officials, legislators and advocates from around the state.

Bevin says the state’s laws need to be changed to save money and allow those convicted of crimes to more effectively rejoin society.

“…Because to not do so comes at a burden and a cost economically, emotionally, behaviorally, criminally that we frankly cannot afford to bear,” Bevin said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Though Bevin and other speakers didn’t have any specific proposals for legislation, several broad concepts were mentioned including sentencing reform, finding alternatives to incarceration and devoting more resources to combat drug addiction.

Jacob Ryan, WFPL

A judge says Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer can remove a confederate monument near the University of Louisville campus.

The mayor and U of L President James Ramsey announced plans to remove the statue in late April, but a group headed up by the Sons of Confederate Veterans challenged the move, saying the monument was protected as a designated historical object.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell called the group’s legal arguments “dishonest.”

“There wasn’t a single shred of evidence to support any of their allegations,” O’Connell said. “The entire thing was a sham.”