Teachers triumph: Kentucky House, Senate override Bevin's vetoes of tax plan, budget

Teachers triumph: Kentucky House, Senate override Bevin's vetoes of tax plan, budget
The floor of the Kentucky Senate on Friday.

FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky House and Senate both voted to override Gov. Bevin's vetoes of the tax bill (HB 366), budget bill (HB 200) and HB 362 on Friday.

The Kentucky Senate voted 26 to 12 override Gov. Bevin's veto of the budget plan (HB 200). The final vote from the Senate floor came in around 5:45 p.m. The House voted to override the budget plan veto a few hours earlier on Friday, 66 to 28.

The tax plan bill (HB 366) veto was overridden in the Senate by a vote of 20 to 18; the House voted earlier on Friday to override the tax plan veto by a vote of 57-40.

Earlier on Friday, the House also voted to override HB 362 (94-2), the bill which allows a phase-in of pension cost increases for local government. The Senate voted 34 to 4 to override the veto of HB 362.

Republican lawmakers cited additional education spending put into the two-year state budget bill as one of the main reasons the override was necessary.

In response, Democratic lawmakers stated they supported the school spending, but protested the secretive creation of the tax plan and the way it generates additional revenue.

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The tax bill vetoed by the governor, SB 366, includes a $480 million tax increase to help pay for increases in public education spending. The tax bill also proposes a 6% sales tax on a variety of services, including auto and home repairs and funding for education.

The tax reform bill would make numerous changes in Kentucky's tax code. First, it would extend sales tax to apply to some services, including car repair, cleaning services, pet care, landscaping, dry cleaning, fitness memberships, golf courses and country clubs, tanning salons, limo services and more.

It also increases the tax on cigarettes by 50 cents per pack, to $1.10.

This is expected to generate an extra $480 million during the two-year operating budget.

In the budget bill, that money goes to the pension system and public education, and seeks to restore several funding cuts proposed by Bevin, including the Western Kentucky University Mesonet, and Kentucky State Police.

Gov. Bevin's office had warned Kentucky lawmakers earlier on Friday that they risked a poorly balanced state budget due to mistakes made in the hurriedly passed tax code overhaul on April 2, which Bevin vetoed this week.

"My team and I have spent the past 10 days with tax experts, as well as legislative leaders and staff, analyzing, scoring and attempting to correct House Bill 366, the revenue bill that Gov. Bevin vetoed," State Budget Director John Chilton said in a statement released by Bevin on Twitter.

"It is now evident that bill, as it was written, overestimated the revenue that would have resulted from it by as much as $87 million," Chilton wrote. "This would have put the budget out of balance and would have required a budget reduction order early in the fiscal year. If the legislature overrides the budget but fails to override the veto of HB 366, $480 million will need to be raised to make things balance."

Bevin urged the legislature not to override his vetoes earlier in the week, and asked them to spend the last two days of the legislative session creating a balanced budget that he would sign into law.

The Kentucky Democratic Party commented on the series of votes at around 5:30 p.m. on Friday evening.

“It’s amazing that even when Republicans control both chambers of state government as well as the Governor’s Mansion that they can’t even agree on the direction to take Kentucky,” Kentucky Democratic Party Chair Ben Self said.  “The fact that Governor Bevin and Republican Leadership can’t even agree on a tax plan or budget for Kentucky just shows that they aren’t the sorts of folks who should be in charge. They’d rather attack each other than lead the way.”

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