Kentucky Teachers Plan Large Protest of Governor's Vetoes

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April 10, 2018

Kentucky teachers by the thousands are planning to be at the Frankfurt statehouse to greet the return of the state legislature, in an attempt to reverse measures recently taken by the governor that teachers say are harmful.

The Republican-led legislature had passed three bills and sent them to Gov. Matt Bevin, also a member of the GOP, for approval. One was a two-year operating budget, one was a $480 million tax increase, and one was a pension reform bill. Bevin signed the pension reform bill into law but vetoed the budget and the tax increase, both of which contained provisions for significant increases in education spending. The pension reform bill, by contrast, cuts pensions for new teachers; it was part of a wastewater services bill that sailed through a committee and both state houses on the same day, March 29.

Bevin said that even though members of his own political party passed the budget and tax increase, he wouldn't approve them because he said they would result in a large budget deficit. Leaders of the Kentucky House and Senate stood by their actions.

The legislature returns for its final two days of session on Friday and Saturday, then plans to adjourn for the year. Whether they take any further action on any of the three bills remains to be seen. Republicans hold a 63–37 majority in the House of Representatives and a 27–11 majority in the Senate. The pension reform bill passed by wide majorities in both houses, but the budget and tax increase barely passed. Kentucky law requires a simple majority in both houses to override a governor's veto.

The state superintendents association has announced its support for the teachers' actions, and some superintendents plan to join their teachers at the statehouse.

The Frankfurt protest will be the second in recent days. Another large group of teachers demonstrated outside the state capital on March 30, the day after the passage of the pension reform bill. Many Kentucky schools were on spring break on that day; many of the schools what would have been in session closed for the day.

The Kentucky protest took place on the same day as a large gathering in Oklahoma's capital city; teachers in Oklahoma are still protesting what they say is underfunded education in that state.

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