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Kentucky Governor Vetoes School Choice Bill

Josh James

A GOP-favored plan to help lower-income students attend private schools and pay for other education expenses has been vetoed by Gov. Andy Beshear. Superintendents and public school advocates have been vocal in their opposition to the bill.

House Bill 523 would allow donors to receive tax credits for giving to what are called education opportunity accounts — pools of money that can be accessed by students and families wishing to pay for education costs including private school tuition in the state's nine largest counties.

In a briefing announcing his veto of the bill, Beshear echoed the concerns of Democratic lawmakers who see the tax credits as a way to shift more money away from public schools.

"Can we expect more from public education? Absolutely. But the way to do that is not to defund it," the governor said.

In a statement, EdChoice KY 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."

While Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers, Beshear's rejection of the school choice bill could be upheld. Overturning the veto requires 51 votes in the House, where the bill squeaked by 48-47 in its first vote. 

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.