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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Here's What's at Stake if the Governor's Vetos Stay

With a pension reform bill signed into law by Governor Matt Bevin and subsequent veto of bills covering the state budget (HB 200), CERS phase-in (SB 362) and tax reform (HB 366), public educators are again gearing up to make their voices heard in the state Capitol as the 2018 legislative session winds down.

Schools across the Commonwealth are beginning to call off as teachers are planning on rallying to implore legislators to override the Governor's vetos as legislators head back to session on Friday, April 13. They must adjourn by Saturday, April 14 at midnight.

The budget bill provides funding for the pension system, healthcare, transportation, SEEK, as well as funding to help renovate Johnson Elementary School. The budget allocation $7.6 million to help with the reconstruction cost.

The phase-in for CERS retirement costs would cost the district $200,000 this year alone while the phase-in payments for the CERS retirement cost for the City of Fort Thomas was estimated at $700,000-$800,000.

The education community, led by the Kentucky Education Association, said that they believe that without the budget measures passed by the Kentucky House and Senate that school district funding will be devastated.

Governor Bevin said that its the legislators duty to fix this problem adequately after years of Frankfort kicking the can down the road.

Teachers Associations across the Commonwealth took to Facebook to urge its members to call their legislators, asking them to override the governor’s vetoes on the budget and tax reform legislation.

“Neither bill is perfect, but together they add hundreds of millions of dollars to public education, allowing pensions to be fully funded, education cuts to be restored, and health insurance to be funded. So having both is essential at this point,” the Jefferson County association said on Facebook.

To override the governor's veto, the legislative bodies only need a majority, which equates to
20 votes in the Senate and 51 votes in the House. Previously, House Bill 200 (budget) passed in the Senate 26-11 and in the House by 76-15. Senate Bill 362 (CERS phase-in) passed easily 35-3 in the Senate and 90-2 in the House. The tax reform bill, which could be the most tenuous, passed by a vote of 20-18 in the Senate and 51-44 in the House.

If one person in either of those bodies changes their decision and votes to not override the governor's veto, a new budget would be subject to a veto after the session adjourns and Governor Bevin would get control of budget until a special session is called before July.

For any bills they pass during these last two days of the General Assembly, the governor will still have ten days after that to possibly veto those bills, and the General Assembly would not be able to override any vetoes of bills passed.

It's possible that new bill language could be passed until the very end.

Campbell Co. YMCA. 

Because school districts, cities and counties are in the budgeting phase for next year, that may be too late to make decisions about staffing and other budget issues.

"This budget and tax plan are not perfect, but the uncertainty of not passing a budget is worse," the Kentucky School Boards Associations said in an email. "You cannot wait to plan your own district budgets. Also, it is possible that a new budget and tax deal they would try to formulate in a special session might be much worse for public education investments. Nerves are frayed, the atmosphere has become chaotic and toxic, and the uncertainty of how this would play out in a special session is very risky."

To make your voice heard on either side of the issue, you can contact your legislators at 1-800-372-7181. Other bills are being discussed, but the issues at the forefront are House Bill 200 (budget), House Bill 366 (tax reform), and Senate Bill 362 (CERS phase-in).

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