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UPDATE: Ky. Senate and House override Gov. Bevin's veto of tax hike bill

(WSAZ)
Published: Mar. 29, 2018 at 5:06 PM EDT
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UPDATE 4/13/18 @ 6:30 p.m.

Kentucky lawmakers have finalized an override of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's veto of a state spending plan that increases education funding with the help of a more than $480 million tax increase.

The GOP-controlled Senate voted 26-12 Friday to override Bevin's veto of House Bill 200. The bill authorizes the state to spend $4,000 for every public school student, the highest level in state history. The increase is possible because of the tax increase approved in a separate bill.

The Senate action followed a 66-28 House vote to override Bevin's veto of the two-year budget proposal. The House also is controlled by Republicans.

Bevin had vetoed the budget and revenue bills, warning the new taxes would not generate enough money to cover the new spending. Thousands of public school teachers rallied Friday at the Capitol, urging lawmakers to override the vetoes anyway. Lawmakers also overrode Bevin's veto of the tax bill.


UPDATE 4/13/18 @ 3 p.m.

Kentucky's House of Representatives has overridden Gov. Matt Bevin's veto of a $480 million tax hike that helps pay for increases in public education spending.

The Republican-controlled House voted 57-40 to override the GOP governor's veto of House bill 366. The bill raises revenue for the state over the next two years. It includes a 6 percent sales tax on a variety of services, including auto and home repairs, to pay for higher classroom spending.

Bevin vetoed the increase because he said it would not generate enough money to cover new state spending. Republican legislative leaders disagreed.

Thousands of teachers rallied at the Kentucky Capitol on Friday, urging lawmakers to override Bevin's vetoes.

The Republican-controlled state Senate will take up the veto next.


UPDATE 4/9/18 @ 5:45 p.m.

Kentucky's Republican governor has vetoed the state's two-year operating budget and a corresponding tax increase.

Bevin signed the vetoes Monday afternoon, a few hours after announcing his intention in a news conference.

Bevin's veto message says the spending plan is not balanced because it would spend roughly $50 million more than the state is projected to collect in revenue from the new taxes. He also criticized lawmakers for agreeing to spend $600 million more than he initially proposed. He said the plan ignores fiscal reality.

"A lot of people were upset and you know who was really upset about what was done on the budget and the tax structure, the people who are paying for it... that's who's upset," Bevin said in a press conference. "They weren't here protesting, they're working. They're paying taxes. They didn't have the time and ability but now that it's out, they're looking at it and boy we're hearing from them."

Bevin says he is also hearing from job creators.

"What the job creators are saying is that this is not the way this should be done, this is not what we elected you all to do, this is not what we expect of those of you in office and they are right," Bevin said.

Republican lawmakers said Bevin is misguided. They asked to meet with him before he signed the veto. It's unclear if that happened.

Lawmakers could override Bevin's vetoes on Friday.


UPDATE 4/9/18 @ 2:49 p.m.

The Kentucky Education Association has released a statement regarding Gov. Matt Bevin's announcement of vetoing the 2-year-budget deal and a bill to overhaul taxes in the Commonwealth.

The KEA says, "we are profoundly disappointed by Governor Bevin’s announcement that he will veto the budget and revenue bills sent to him last week by the General Assembly. Sadly, this is just one more example of his blatant disrespect for Kentucky’s public employees."

"The legislators who crafted those bills did not do so lightly. They worked hard and thoughtfully on them, Republicans and Democrats both, and many of them took difficult votes in the interest of forging a way forward for the people of the Commonwealth. In dismissing those bills out of hand, Governor Bevin shows that he cares as little for legislators’ work as he cares for the work of Kentucky’s other public employees—including teachers and classified school employees, law enforcement officers, firefighters, social workers and many more—who have dedicated their lives to the service of Kentucky’s children and families."

KEA President Stephanie Winkler said, “We are disappointed as well by the governor’s reference to KEA as ‘the problem.’ KEA is 45,000 women and men who serve in every community in Kentucky, supporting and training our children for the jobs they will do when they take their places in the adult world. KEA members live, work and pay taxes in every community in this state. If the governor wants to work with ‘job creators and taxpayers’ why does he insist on insulting so many people who do both?”

"We agree with Governor Bevin about one thing: HB200 and HB366 are not perfect. But instead of sending the legislature back to square one and forcing a special session that the citizens of Kentucky should not have to pay for, the Governor should sign both bills and begin doing now what he should have been doing all along: engaging the legislature and the people of Kentucky in constructive, forward-looking, bipartisan discussions aimed at finding new solutions to the revenue challenges facing the Commonwealth."

Bevin made the vetoes during a press conference on Monday.

Despite angry teachers invading the capitol, lawmakers passed the budget bill last month that would cut some pension benefits, mostly impacting new teachers.

Lawmakers also passed a new tax bill last month that would generate $478 million over the next two years by adding a tax on a variety of services, including auto and home repairs. It would also cut income taxes for most individuals and corporations.

Lawmakers will now have to come up with a new spending bill before the session ends on Saturday to prevent a special session.


UPDATE: 4/9/18 @11:15 a.m.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin will veto both the 2-year budget deal and a bill to overhaul taxes in the Commonwealth.

He made the vetoes during a press conference on Monday.

Despite angry teachers invading the capitol, lawmakers passed the budget bill last month that would cut some pension benefits, mostly impacting new teachers.

Lawmakers also passed a new tax bill last month that would generate $478 million over the next two years by adding a tax on a variety of services, including auto and home repairs. It would also cut income taxes for most individuals and corporations.

Lawmakers will now have to come up with a new spending bill before the session ends on Saturday to prevent a special session.


UPDATE 3/29/18 @10:34 p.m.

Within minutes of the news of the Kentucky pension bill is headed to the Governor's desk Fayette County Schools in Kentucky sent a message via Twitter that schools will be closed on March 30, 2018.

The Tweet said that it was due to more than a third of teachers being out.


UPDATE: 3/29/18 @10:21 p.m.

Defying angry teachers, the Kentucky Senate has approved an overhaul of one of the country's worst-funded public pension systems and has sent it to Gov. Matt Bevin's desk for his signature.

The Senate voted 22-15 Thursday to approve a bill that preserves most benefits for current workers. Most of the changes would impact new hires. But the bill still drew the ire of hundreds of teachers protesting in the Capitol, with many chanting they would vote lawmakers out of office in November.

Republican Sen. Joe Bowen said the bill puts the state on a pathway to paying down its debt while assuring the system's strong financial future.

But Democratic Sen. Ray Jones said the bill would destroy everything teachers have fought for for decades.

The House voted 49-46 to approve a bill that re-emerged suddenly Thursday afternoon. Eleven Republicans joined 35 Democrats in opposing the measure earlier Thursday evening.

About 200 people gathered Thursday evening at the bottom of steps to the Senate chamber as senators discussed the measure that re-emerged suddenly earlier in the day.

The protesters are chanting "We'll remember in November" - an election-year warning to the Republican-led legislature. They also are chanting "Shame on you" and "West Virginia" - the latter a reference to a recent teachers' walkout in West Virginia over a pay dispute.

"We hoped that they listened to us and the bill was dead and then to kind of find out how they sneaked it in attached to a sewage bill with very little time for any lawmakers to even review it it was almost 300 pages it just has us shaking our heads like how can our government be this corrupt," Boyd County Education Association President Missy Conley said Thursday night.

The show of force comes amid growing unrest among public educators nationwide, led by thousands of West Virginia teachers who walked off the job for nine days earlier this year to secure a 5 percent pay raise.

Last week, about 2,000 teachers and other school employees rallied at Kentucky's Capitol with the goal of burying the proposed pension overhaul.

Thousands of teachers have protested in recent weeks, threatening lawsuits and a strike if the bill passes.


UPDATE 3/29/18 @10:20 p.m.

The Kentucky House has passed a bill aiming to reform the state's pension plan by a vote of 49-46. It now heads to the Senate.

The committee passed Senate Bill 151, which was originally filed as an act related to wastewater services.

The bill contains elements of Senate Bill 1, which was unsuccessful in its passage.

The bill passed 11-8, mostly on party lines, with many Democrats voicing fierce opposition to the rushed plan.

"How do you men get up and shave in the morning and not cut your throat?" asked Rep. Tom Burch, D - Louisville.

Other Democrats voiced displeasure saying the nearly 300-page document was just handed to lawmakers minutes before the committee meeting. Rep. Jim Wayne, D - Louisville, shared concerns the bill may be illegal.

Bill sponsor Rep. Bam Carney, R - Campbellsville, say this is a comprehensive reform plan. Carney is an educator who would be directly impacted by this bill if it passes. Carney says this bill will save $300 million in 30 years.

“This is a good compromise plan that addresses many concerns," Carney said, "This is not something I do lightly. This is my retirement. I do not get legislative retirement.”

Carney spoke on the House floor, using his teaching background in an effort to find a compromise between both sides. Protestors could be heard outside of the House floor voicing opposition.


ORIGINAL STORY

The Kentucky House State and Local Government Committee has passed a bill aiming to reform the state's pension plan.

The committee passed Senate Bill 151, which was originally filed as an act related to wastewater services.

The bill contains elements of Senate Bill 1, which was unsuccessful in its passage.

The bill passed 11-8, mostly on party lines, with many Democrats voicing fierce opposition to the rushed plan.

"How do you men get up and shave in the morning and not cut your throat?" asked Rep. Tom Burch, D - Louisville.

Other Democrats voiced displeasure saying the nearly 300-page document was just handed to lawmakers minutes before the committee meeting. Rep. Jim Wayne, D - Louisville, shared concerns the bill may be illegal.

Bill sponsor Rep. Bam Carney, R - Campbellsville, say this is a comprehensive reform plan. Carney is an educator who would be directly impacted by this bill if it passes. Carney says this bill will save $300 million in 30 years.

“This is a good compromise plan that addresses many concerns," Carney said, "This is not something I do lightly. This is my retirement. I do not get legislative retirement.”

Carney spoke on the House floor, using his teaching background in an effort to find a compromise between both sides. Protestors could be heard outside of the House floor voicing opposition.

Senate Bill 151 contains no changes to cost of living adjustments, which will remain at 1.5 percent. There are no changes to the number of years needed to serve in order to receive benefits. New hires would enter a hybrid cash balance plan.

Kentucky House Speaker David Osborne, R - Prospect, discussed reforms prior to the bill's passage, saying it is important for the public to understand what lawmakers could pass.

"We are going to have to be very very conscious," said Osborne, "We have to have a very detailed explanation of everything we do at this point."

The state's retirement systems are $41 billion short of the money needed to pay benefits over the next 30 years. Kentucky is among the nation's worst-funded pension system.

WKYT will continue to update the status of SB 151 as it is being debated in the Kentucky House.