Kentucky Supreme Court hears arguments about controversial education bill
SHELBYVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) - The state’s highest court heard arguments Wednesday about a controversial education bill passed last year by the General Assembly.
House Bill 563 was narrowly passed by the General Assembly and vetoed by Governor Andy Beshear, but the legislature overrode that veto.
HB 563 sets up what’s called “education opportunity accounts,” or tax credits, to help parents pay for schools outside their districts, including private schools that require tuition.
Opponents say it uses state money to let kids attend private schools.
A Franklin Circuit Court ruled that unconstitutional and Attorney General Daniel Cameron then appealed that decision.
The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday afternoon following the appeal of the lower court’s decision. Each side had 30 minutes to argue their case.
The state Supreme Court met in Shelby County as part of the plan to let the public see more of their process.
Numerous people wearing yellow scarves filed into the convention center to hear the arguments before the justices. They are in favor of school choice, saying parents need the option let their kids attend other public or even private schools through the tax credit program.
“It’s really important for parents. I get calls every week,” said Andrew Vandiver with Ed Choice Kentucky. “When is this program going to be available for our kids? Hopefully, that answer is soon.”
However, the other side argues allowing businesses and individuals to receive tax credits for funding education opportunity accounts will take money away from public schools, placing the financial burden squarely on the state of Kentucky.
“Public tax dollars should be spent on public goods. Public education is the focus of one of those public goods. That helps everyone,” said Eddie Campbell, Kentucky Education Association. “We are optimistic the Supreme Court is going to come back with a decision that finds this unconstitutional.”
There has also been the argument that the law offers a geographic advantage to those in larger cities because it does not include the entire state. School choice proponents say this is only a pilot project and will eventually include the whole state.
The Supreme Court will rule on the issue at a later date.
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