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  • Thomas Davis

HB563 Cracked the KEA Monopoly

HB 563 is a seriously watered down bill for school choice. Nonetheless, it forced Gov. Andy Beshear to expose his hypocrisy. More importantly, it cracked the KEA monopoly for the benefit of our children's education.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for school choice has surged and has become synonymous with the national Republican platform - despite being a Democratic policy until the Obama administration.

Unfortunately, the fight for school choice in Kentucky continues to be a tough battle. West Virginia and Kentucky have almost identical compositions within the state House.

In West Virginia, 74 out of 100 delegates are Republican.

In Kentucky, 75 out of 100 representatives are Republican.

Despite the similar composition, the legislative outcomes underscore a stark contrast. West Virginia just passed the nation's most expansive school choice bill, which would give every child in public school $4,600 to attend a private school or a homeschool. In other words, the tax dollars follow the child.

In Kentucky, HB 563 watered down school choice by eliminating private school language until a late amendment restored the private school option. Unfortunately, only 8 out of Kentucky's 120 counties will have access to real school choice. We find this to be neglectful of the educational needs in rural Kentucky.

The bill also limits funding to $25 million per year and includes a sunset provision that causes the bill to expire in 5 years.

While $25 million may sound like a lot, let's put this in perspective:

  1. $25 million is less than 0.3% of what is spent on public education each year in Kentucky.

  2. The federal government is sending Kentucky an additional $6+ billion this year through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. That means, it would take almost 250 years for the Education Opportunity Account (EOA) program to equal the new revenue sent by the federal government in 2021.

Furthermore, the EOA program is equally available to both public and private school students. Since SEEK funding is not altered by HB 563, the EOA program actually increases per pupil public school funding.

The Kentucky House even turned down over $100 million per year of additional funding in order to pay for statewide, full-day kindergarten!

Why? Because teachers union loyalists could not stand the idea of losing any control of their education monopoly -- even if it meant a significant increase in funding.

Despite the clear benefits to students across the Commonwealth, Gov. Beshear vetoed HB 563 describing it as an assault on public education. He reminded viewers in that veto announcement that he is "a proud product of public education."

  1. Gov. Beshear sent his children to private school.

  2. Gov. Beshear went to private school as a child.

  3. Gov. Beshear used Kentucky taxpayer dollars to be chauffeured to private school.

Sadly, Gov. Andy Beshear refuses to allow less affluent children to have the same opportunities that he and his children have had in private schools.

Thankfully, with the successful veto override of HB 563, several thousand Kentucky families will have hope for a better education.

Of course, the fight is not over as demand for school choice far exceeds what is included in HB 563. Therefore, we hope that you will continue to actively join us in the fight for school choice.

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