FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s Republican governor said Monday he will veto a million tax increase and a two-year operating budget the state’s GOP-controlled legislature passed in part to increase public education funding amid protests from teachers.
The plan would impose a 6 percent sales tax on a variety of services like auto and home repairs while cutting the income tax rate for some individuals and businesses. Republican lawmakers used the extra money from the taxes to spend a record-high ,000 per pupil in public school classrooms and to restore million in money for school buses that Bevin had proposed to eliminate.
Last week, Bevin’s budget director said revenue estimates from the tax proposals were not accurate. He said the new taxes, if signed into law, would lead to at least a million shortfall over the next two years. Bevin said the budget and the new taxes were not responsible or wise.
“I did not take this job to make people politically happy,” Bevin said. “Those of you who are parents understand this. Sometimes making the hard decision, putting the sugary cereal back on the shelf, doesn’t make everyone involved in that situation happy. But sometimes it is the right thing to do.”
Lawmakers could override Bevin’s vetoes this weekend. The legislature is scheduled to convene Friday and Saturday before adjourning for the year. Last week, Republican leaders indicated they had the votes necessary to override a veto. Representatives from the House and Senate leadership offices did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Bevin’s veto announcement came as teachers across the country are mobilizing to protest low funding and teacher pay along with changes to struggling pension systems. In Kentucky, teachers returned to work Monday after a week of Spring Break where many of them marched at the Capitol to oppose recent changes to their pension system. Nearly two-dozen school districts had closed the week before when teachers used their sick days to protest the legislation.
It’s unclear how teachers will react to Bevin’s vetoes. On Friday, the Kentucky Education Association urged all teachers to return to work on Monday. The president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, representing Louisville educators in one of the country’s largest school districts, called on lawmakers to override the veto.
“The Governor’s veto of a budget that includes hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue dedicated to public education is nothing short of reprehensible because it will harm every public school student in our Commonwealth,” McKim posted on his Twitter account.
Bevin said he was not worried if his vetoes would anger teachers and lead to a work stoppage similar to one in West Virginia.
“Teachers want to teach their children,” Bevin said. “It would be irresponsible (to strike). I don’t think they want to do the irresponsible thing.”