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Beshear Vetoes Tax-Credit Scholarship Bill, Teacher Pension Reform

J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill aimed at reforming Kentucky's teacher pension program. The measure would create a new tier for teachers hired in 2022 that requires them to pay in more and work longer to receive their benefits.

During a news conference Wednesday, Beshear said the bill would undermine efforts to recruit educators.

"For new teachers, the most important, most lucrative benefit is being slashed. Yet there is no increase in salary, there is no increase in other benefits," he said.

Republicans have supermajorities in both the House and the Senate, and will likely override the governor's veto when they return to Frankfort next week for the last two days of the session.

Supporters of the measure say it's needed to reduce the cost of pensions to the state. The teacher retirement system has a large unfunded liability due to years of under-payments by the General Assembly.

Beshear also vetoed a controversial bill that would create a $25 million tax-credit program to fund private school tuition.

The program would essentially allow donors to contribute to a scholarship fund in lieu of paying their state taxes. Middle-income and low-income families could use the funds for things like textbooks - in the most populous counties - private school tuition.

Beshear says the measure is an attack on public education.

"This measure would greatly harm public education in Kentucky, by taking money away from public schools, and sending it to unaccountable, private organizations with little oversight."

The measure only cleared the House by one vote, and it's not certain supporters will have enough votes to override the governor's veto.

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Ryland is the state capitol reporter for the Kentucky Public Radio Network, a group of public radio stations including WKU Public Radio. A native of Lexington, Ryland has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
Jess Clark
Jess Clark is WWNO's Education Desk reporter. Jess comes to the station after two years as Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting for (Chapel Hill). Her reporting has aired on national programs, including NPR's All Things Considered, Here & Now from WBUR, and NPR's Weekend Edition.