Thursday, April 05, 2007

U of L President “sandbagging” on the issue of domestic partner benefits, family group charges

For Immediate Release
April 5, 2007

Contact: Martin Cothran
Phone: 859-329-1919

LEXINGTON, KY—After admitting to legislators on the last day of the legislative session that he gave misleading testimony to a legislative committee on his university’s domestic partner benefit program, U of L President James Ramsey has traded contrition for recalcitrance, says the family group that brought attention to Ramsey’s erroneous testimony. In a letter to U of L alumni, Ramsey makes no mention of his false testimony before the committee, but instead accuses opponents of the university’s domestic partner program of distorting the facts about the program.

“The U of L president mischaracterized his university’s policy to lawmakers. Now he is mischaracterizing the issue to his own alumni,” said Martin Cothran, spokesman for The Family Foundation. “This is a disturbing pattern of behavior. If Ramsey continues to sandbag people on this issue, it’s not only going to reflect badly on him, but on the university itself. The university’s supporters deserve an honest account of his actions during the Session.”

In the face of heated questions during the March 6 House Health and Welfare Committee on Senate Bill 152, a bill that would have struck down U of L’s plan, Ramsey insisted that U of L did not even partially subsidize the health benefits of its staff’s domestic partners benefits program. It was discovered later, however, that, according to its own website, the University was indeed subsidizing part of the benefits, and telling its employees how it should report the subsidies to the IRS. Although the bill passed the Senate, several House committee members used Ramsey’s assurances as an argument against the bill, which failed in a tie vote.

After the Session, Ramsey wrote a letter to his university’s alumni, which included the following account of the domestic partner benefits issue:
During the legislative session, a bill passed in the state senate prohibiting public universities from offering this benefit to their employees (even though major employers, e.g., Ford, UPS, Humana, LexMark and private colleges, e.g., Berea, Centre College provide the benefit), but it failed in the House. Despite distortions to the contrary by some who oppose this benefit, NO state funds are used to offer this insurance to our valued employees, both current and future recruits. It is a national competitiveness issue for higher education. [emphasis added]
“The U of L president is only going to dig a deeper hole for himself if he continues to mislead people on this issue,” said Cothran. “What are lawmakers going to think next session after finding out that Ramsey not only misled them, but continued to misrepresent the issue after the session was over? These subsidies were obviously going to come out of U of L’s general fund, which is partly funded by tax money, until the University tried to cover its tracks."

After it was discovered that U of L was subsidizing the benefits, contrary to Ramsey’s testimony, the University attempted to mollify lawmakers by announcing that the subsidies would be funded through a U of L foundation.


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