Gov. Beshear takes action on several education bills, vetoes school choice bill

Gov. Beshear takes action on several education bills, vetoes school choice bill
Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 1:16 PM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - On Wednesday, Gov. Andy Beshear announced which education bills he signed into law, and the ones he vetoed.

“My administration would always be an education-first administration,” Gov. Beshear said.

The governor took to the podium, wasting no time declaring his vetoes. First on the list was House Bill 258, a hybrid pension plan for new teachers. It would make teachers eligible to retire at 57, versus 50-years-old, which is what it is now.

“It would cut retirement benefits for young teachers. This would harden the commonwealth’s ability to attract the best and the brightest to teach our future,” Gov. Beshear said.

He said the General Assembly hasn’t prioritized funding for public education. It was his main concern with House Bill 563, the school choice bill.

“The bill would drain as much as $25 million from public education,” Gov. Beshear said.

Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman, dressed in red, like the sea of teachers who protested in the capitol before, called the bill unconstitutional.

“Hundreds of millions of public tax dollars that could have gone to strengthening our classrooms and supporting the people in them would’ve been diverted to private, shadow organizations,” Lt. Gov. Coleman said.

We asked the governor what he would say to parents who feel their child is trapped in an underperforming school.

“I would tell them that this bill is not the answer. Their children would then be subject to an unregulated, private entity that could take part of the money that is out there and pay themselves,” the governor responded.

Supporters of the bill, like the coalition, EdChoice Kentucky, disagreed with the governor’s veto. In a statement the coalition’s president Charles Leis said, “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.”

Gov. Beshear said he wants to improve public schools instead of pushing families to private.

“We have independent school districts that have some challenges and some disagreements with some of our other public school districts. Those are things that we should be willing to talk about,” Gov. Beshear said.

The governor signed several bills into law, including Senate Bill 128. It will allow students to redo classes taken during the pandemic. It’s up to districts to decide if students will have the option.

Lawmakers could override the governor’s vetoes when they return to the Capitol Monday. Gov. Beshear said he expects House Bill 563 to be challenged in court, but he said not necessarily by his administration.

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