Teachers, pensions and overrides: What to know about Bevin’s tax reform and budget vetoes

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, Louisville Courier JournalPublished 1:56 p.m. ET April 9, 2018

Gov. Matt Bevin announced Monday morning that he will veto the tax reform and biennial budget bills that Kentucky’s Republican-controlled legislature passed.

That sets the stage for a potentially tumultuous final two days of the 2018 lawmaking session.

Here’s what you need to know about Bevin’s veto announcement.

Tax reform on the chopping block

The governor will veto the tax reform bill crafted by legislative leaders of his own party. He agrees Kentucky’s “antiquated” tax structure must be modernized but said such reforms must be more comprehensive.

Bevin applauded lawmakers for trying to tackle this issue but indicated many Kentuckians and “job creators” are concerned by the changes that were rushed through the legislature a week ago.

“A lot of people were upset … and boy, we’re hearing from them,” he said. “They’re writing letters, they’re making phone calls, they’re reaching out, they’re meeting with us in person.”

“And what the job creators are saying is that this is not the way this should be done … This is not what we expect of those of you in office,” he continued. “And they are right.”

Bevin will veto the entire 2018-20 budget

The governor plans to veto the whole budget the legislature approved last week, rather than only eliminate certain parts of the proposal.

Read this: What does it take to override Bevin’s vetoes of the budget and tax bills?

“Not everything in there is bad,” he said. “In fact, much of it is good.”

But he has significant concerns about the budget, including its lack of sufficient emergency funds and a spending plan he considers too high based on the state’s financial challenges.

Pension bill a good step but doesn’t resolve state’s crisis

Bevin lauded the legislature for passing a pension reform bill and said it includes good provisions but more work must still be done.

“Don’t let anyone delude you into thinking that we have now solved the pension problem,” he said. “The pension problem still looms large at $13,500 for every single man, woman and child (in Kentucky), and there is no proposal as to how that’s going to be paid.”

Despite his concerns, he did not announce plans to veto the pension bill.

Teachers aren’t the problem, their union is

Bevin singled out the Kentucky Education Association — as opposed to individual teachers — as being a problem, particularly when it comes to pension reform.

“The issue isn’t the teachers. Teachers want to teach their children. The KEA has been a problem,” he said. “They’ve been very vocal, very loud, refusing to be a part of the solution even though, in reality, their members are going to be the beneficiaries of us getting this right.”

Bevin also indicated that it would be a mistake for teachers to go on strike.

Earlier in the press conference, while discussing citizens’ opposition to the tax reform bill, Bevin appeared to critique the teachers and other people who swarmed the Capitol on April 2 to protest the pension proposal and financial cuts to public education.

“And you know who’s really upset about what was done on the budget and the tax structure? The people that are paying for it,” he said. “They weren’t here protesting. They’re working. They’re paying taxes.”

Read this: Democrats applaud Republican Gov. Bevin for blocking budget and tax bills

Later on, however, Bevin emphasized that teachers aren’t a problem and that having a balanced budget is important for public education.

“… Seventy thousand-plus teachers are doing a great job, they really are, and they want to teach their students,” he said. “I think what they do want to do is educate young people, and they want to make sure there’s funding there to do it.”

Bevin advises against legislature overriding vetoes

The legislature has the power to override Bevin’s vetoes on tax reform and the budget, but the governor questioned why lawmakers would do so.

“I don’t know why they would,” Bevin said of the legislature’s override option. “These are structurally unsound. They don’t balance. They come up short.”

He expressed interest in working with state lawmakers to come up with a “smart, thoughtful, more balanced approach” to moving forward on both the budget and tax reform.

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