FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) — After declaring two weeks ago that he would veto any charter school legislation that crosses his office, Gov. Andy Beshear delivered on that promise Thursday, vetoing the House Bill 9 at a Capitol press conference while saying the omnibus abortion bill is still under consideration.
“I am a proud Kentucky public school graduate, and I owe a debt of gratitude to my teachers that I may never be able to fully repay,” he said before signing the veto message. . “I don’t know if I would be where I am today, I certainly know I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
Beshear said the legislation taking money away from public schools and giving it to charter schools is unconstitutional, “and I think the courts will find it that way if this veto is overturned. The Kentucky Constitution clearly states that the Assembly general shall, by appropriate legislation, provide for an effective system of common schools throughout the State. Common schools are public schools. The money of the public taxpayers, I believe, under the Constitution, can only go to public schools.
He also denounced what he said was sending taxpayers’ money to charter school boards that are unelected, unaccountable to the people and with little oversight. “They’re not even required to comply with the same controls and accountability measures as our public schools.”
Beshear pointed out that Jefferson County and Northern Kentucky are improperly and unconstitutionally designated, “requiring them to allow charter schools within a certain time frame.” Choosing one of the two areas is exactly why the last bill was declared unconstitutional and why the injunction is still in place.
Jim Walters of the Bluegrass Institute released a statement on the action.
“In vetoing charter school funding legislation in Kentucky, Governor Andy Beshear today said he was ‘against’ these public schools, saying they were ‘bad for our Commonwealth.’ “Walters said.
“What’s really ‘wrong’ here is that the governor is siding with self-serving teachers’ unions, educational institution bureaucrats and other special-interest elitists while denying those most in need of between us the possibility of a better education and a better future.”
He added: “The only ‘right’ thing for lawmakers to do is to permit, encourage and welcome these schools into our Commonwealth by overriding Beshear’s special interest veto.”
The governor signed several measures during the press conference:
— House Bill 494 strengthens oversight of student education loan service companies and cracks down on predatory lending practices.
–House Bill 525 requires Medicaid reimbursement for certain services provided by certified community health workers.
— House Bill 564 continues a bipartisan election effort between Beshear and Secretary of State Michael Adams for the 2020 election, which includes in-person early voting days on Thursday, Friday and Saturday before an election.
–Senate Bill 10 is designed to help Kentucky’s nursing shortage by ending barriers to expanding existing nursing programs, while ensuring quality standards remain in place. It also streamlines the process for out-of-state nurses to come to Kentucky.
–Senate Bill 105 adds testing for cytomegalovirus, or CMV, as part of the newborn screening program.
One of the many bills still on the governor’s desk is House Bill 3, the omnibus abortion bill.
“I’m still reviewing it,” Beshear said. “There are concerns for the situations that you see as a prosecutor, when a 12 or 13 year old girl is raped and pregnant by a family member. They deserve options, and I am more than a little worried that House Bill 3 won’t give them any. In fact, it might require the victim to go to the actual abuser to ask if they may have any options. I think the vast majority of Kentuckians think it’s wrong.
He also said he was continuing to review the executive branch budget bill, House Bill 1, a 249-page document.
The governor has veto power over budget bills, meaning he can veto individual provisions but leave the rest of the measure in effect. He said he talks with lawmakers, their staff members, as well as his staff, about any errors he can remove.