Overriding vetoes: House, Senate rebuke governor on three major bills

Overriding vetoes: House, Senate rebuke governor on three major bills

Kerry Wise
April 14, 2018

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has opposed Kentucky teachers' rallies for pension protection and public education funding since they began, but never quite the way he did on Friday afternoon, when he told a gaggle of reporters that the strike would directly cause children to be injured, poisoned and sexually assaulted. The House and Senate ultimately overturned those decisions, but Bevin said children across the state suffered after several school districts closed either to allow teachers to attend Friday's events or because enough teachers absences triggered closures.

Also on Friday, the House and Senate vetoed a two-year state spending plan that increases education funding with the help of a $480 million tax increase. But Bevin vetoed both the budget and the money in it, calling the bills "sloppy" and "non-transparent".

The veto puts Republican lawmakers in a tough position, asking them to vote a second time on a tax increase in an election year. But 57 Republicans eagerly voted to override, asserting their independence after a tumultuous year marred by a sexual harassment scandal.

Republicans - with an eye toward the gallery filled with red-clad teachers - said Democrats were hypocritical because they champion education while voting against the revenue bill and budget which funds increases to education. They're grateful the tax hike will benefit students in their classrooms, but they're saying this is just a small victory in a bigger war.

"It's fantastic that even when Republicans control both chambers of state government as well as the Governor's Mansion that they can't even agree on the direction to take Kentucky".

The increase is possible because of the tax increase approved in a separate bill, House Bill 366. In a dramatic moment, Senate President Robert Stivers cast the decisive vote for the override.

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The GOP-controlled Senate voted 26-12 and House voted 66-28 Friday to override Bevin's veto of House Bill 200.

Mr. Bevin adopted the argument closely, reacting on Twitter to law-makers' addresses.

Similar protests have occurred across the nation, with teachers rallying in Oklahoma and Arizona over low funding and pay. The demonstrations were motivated.

In Arizona, after weeks of teacher protests and walkout threats across the state, Gov. Doug Ducey promised a net 20 percent raise by 2020. Teachers across the commonwealth continued their protest for more education funding and changes to the state pension system.

Kentucky teachers haven't asked for a raise. They are instead focused on education funding and a battle over their pensions. Earlier this month, lawmakers voted to pass a bill that preserves benefits for most workers but moves new hires into a hybrid plan.

Attorney General Andy Beshear, along with the KEA and the Fraternal Order of Police, have filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court challenging the new law.