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Beshear vetoes school choice bill

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 9:04 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a measure that would allow limited use of scholarship tax credits for private-school tuition, calling it an attack on public education.

Public education advocates denounced the proposal during Beshear’s veto announcement Wednesday.

The hot-button bill, however, still could become law when the Republican-led legislature reconvenes next week; override votes are expected on a series of vetoes.

Even if that happens, Beshear said he expects a court challenge may be made against the bill, which he called unconstitutional.

The measure would create education opportunity accounts to pay for education expenses, including private-school tuition in highly-populated counties. The accounts would be backed by private donors who would receive tax credits.

“This measure is a handout to wealthy donors,” Beshear said. “They would receive tax benefits even larger than charitable donation deductions and could even profit by transferring securities to the private educational institutions to avoid capital gains taxes.”

EdChoice Kentucky President Charles Leis shared his reaction in a statement to media Wednesday afternoon:

“Governor Beshear is wrong to veto House Bill 563. By doing so, he chose to listen to special interests like the KEA over the voice of Kentucky parents who are begging for help. For too long, families in Kentucky who aren’t wealthy have been left with no choice when it comes to education. Voters across Kentucky agree that this should be the year that changes.”

Proponents said the bill would give less wealthy families more options.

“Families deserve a choice when it comes to education,” Maria Korte, a parent who supports EdChoice Kentucky, said. “This bill would help take some of the weight off my shoulders and the shoulders of many families.”

Those against the bill said tax credits would siphon money away from public schools, and especially hurt rural schools.

They add it would then go to private organizations who don’t have public oversight.

“The state would not be able to do something as fundamental as requiring a criminal background check for employees at these educational service organizations, who would be working directly with students,” Brent McKim, JCTA President, said.

The governor also vetoed House Bill 258, which would transition new teachers to a hybrid benefits plan instead of structured pension.

Beshear announced he signed five bills into law, including one that would require emergency inhalers in schools and another that would allow districts to enact supplemental school year programs following the pandemic.

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