LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky lawmakers voted late Monday to override a veto by Gov. Andy Beshear of House Bill 563. The bill allows tax credits to pay for private school tuition.
Both the House and Senate scored enough votes as the legislative session nears its final day. The House voted 51-42, followed by the Senate’s 23-14 vote.
“This is just another slap in the face to our teachers whom we ask so much of,” Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, (D)-District 34, said.
HB 563 creates $25 million in tax breaks to send kids to private schools. Those who support the bill feel it would give families the opportunity to switch from school district they feel have failed their students. The students would also have to sit out of athletics for a year if they made the switch.
“This is not about whether public schools do a good job. I think they do a great job, and probably most of us in this room are graduates of public schools. This is about giving families a choice. That's it, just giving families a choice,” Rep. Chad McCoy, (R)-District 50, said.
Beshear recently shared his concern with the bill saying it would take money away from public education and send it to “unaccountable private organizations” with little oversight.
Jefferson County Teacher’s Association Brent McKim told WHAS11 News on Sunday the bill would divert money badly needed by public schools.
"When textbooks are completely eliminated in terms of funding in the state budget, they can’t understand how the state has $25 million dollars in tax breaks to send kids to private school," he said.
Opponents of the bill also rallied at the Capitol.
The ACLU Kentucky swiftly released a statement:
"We are disappointed in this legislature’s attack on public education. Public funds belong in public schools. House Bill 563 is an irresponsible piece of legislation that will harm Kentucky students, reduce transparency in government spending, and subject students to discrimination.
All Kentucky kids deserve access to a quality education, and this legislation will exacerbate the existing inequities in our education system. This new law will reduce transparency because private institutions are not subject to the same open records laws as public schools. This law will also allow tax dollars to support schools that are not required to ensure equal access regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or ability."
The organization also said it could lead the way for school vouchers statewide.
Gov. Beshear hadn't released a statement after the bill became law but said earlier Monday that he is "a proud graduate of Kentucky public schools. I know firsthand the impact education has on our lives. I will always defend our educators and the children of Kentucky."