Beshear vetoes bill to fund charter schools in Kentucky
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) - Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a controversial bill to fund charter schools that was heavily debated this legislative session.
Charter schools would have received permanent funding with through House Bill 9, which supporters said would give more opportunity to students, especially those in underserved areas. HB 9 would have also created a pilot program that would have forced Jefferson County Public Schools and districts in Northern Kentucky to open one.
Opponents, including the governor, said the bill’s passage would take away from public schools, and taxpayers would foot the bill for programs that may or may not work.
“I am against charter schools,” Beshear said. “They are wrong for the Commonwealth. They take taxpayer dollars away from the already underfunded public schools in the commonwealth and our taxpayer dollars should not be redirected to for profit entities that run charter schools.”
Beshear, who attended public schools as a child, said he believes charter schools divert funding away from public schools and send it to schools with boards that are not elected by the public and have no monetary oversight.
“My administration has always been an education-first administration,” Beshear said. “I deeply and I personally believe that we should be investing in our public schools and our educators. … I am against charter schools. They are wrong for the Commonwealth. They take tax dollars away from the already underpaid public schools in the Commonwealth, and our taxpayer dollars should not be redirected to for-profit entities that run charter schools.”
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The Kentucky 120 United group requested last week that House Bill 9 be removed from the legislative agenda and undergo an ethics investigation in connection to Rep. Kim Banta, who voted in favor of the bill. She denied allegations that her husband works for a real estate firm interested in opening an “urban academy.”
Beshear’s veto sends it back to the Republican-dominated legislature where he has seen many of his vetoes overturned.
But Senate President Robert Stivers, speaking about Beshear vetoes in general, suggested for the right reasons that a veto could be allowed to stand.
“If he gives us good reason for not doing it, and there would be out there, I’m sure there may be some, that we would not want to override the veto,” Stivers said.
With time running out in the legislative session, Beshear also spoke with urgency about two major bills in danger of not making it to his desk. Medical marijuana has failed to pass in multiple previous sessions.
“When 70 percent of a state is in favor of something, it’s time for the general assembly to step up and do something about it,” Beshear said.
The legalization of sports betting also enjoys bipartisan support but could fail to pass this year as well.
“You can drive across virtually every border in Kentucky and place a bet on your phone,” Beshear said. Beshear said there are two days left in the session for the bills to pass.
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