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Kentucky General Assembly narrowly passes school choice bill

Published: Mar. 17, 2021 at 3:42 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - State lawmakers worked into the night Tuesday to narrowly pass a school choice bill.

It’s House Bill 563, some call it the school choice bill, but it’s officially named the Education Opportunity Account Act. It funds a tax credit to let students move to schools, public or private, outside their district.

Supporters say it helps struggling families find the best option for their kids. Those against say it takes money away from public schools.

“A family that makes 175 percent of the reduced lunch level or less, their family has the opportunity, some choices they can make, in their own kid’s education, to send to another public school, in some cases, not every county, for private school tuition,” said Rep. Chad McCoy, R-Bardstown.

By just one vote, the Kentucky House passed House Bill 563, the Senate approved it 21 to 15.

It sets up the Education Opportunity Account Program, with the bill language saying it will give more flexibility and choices in education and address disparities in options. To do that, critics say it takes millions away from public schools.

“It is a tax credit. So, it is going to take away money from our general fund, which funds all public services, not just public schools,” said Eddie Campbell, Kentucky Education Association.

Now, there are some people questioning if this will become law, Governor Andy Beshear is expected to veto it.

The legislature will come back on March 29. Rep. McCoy says, despite the bill only passing the House by one vote, they will have more votes in two weeks to override the veto.

Governor Beshear released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying instead of funding public education, the General Assembly passed a controversial bill that he will closely review.

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