As Kentucky teachers contemplate their next moves one week after a massive rally in the state Capitol, Gov. Matt Bevin said a teacher walkout would be “irresponsible” and a “mistake.”…
As Kentucky teachers contemplate their next moves one week after a massive rally in the state Capitol, Gov. Matt Bevin said a teacher walkout would be “irresponsible” and a “mistake.”
“It’s illegal for them to strike in this state. I would not advise that,” Bevin said. “I think that would be a mistake.”
Bevin made the comments after announcing Monday morning that he would veto the tax reform bill and the entire two-year budget proposal that Kentucky’s Republican-run legislature passed last week.
Bevin’s decision to veto the budget bill drew immediate criticism from the Jefferson County teachers union.
“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,” Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim said in a statement.
“On behalf of the 6,000 dedicated public school educators JCTA represents, we call on the members of the General Assembly to do the right thing for the children of our Commonwealth by overriding the Governor’s budget and revenue vetos.”
In a Facebook post, the Jefferson County union called on teachers with available personal days to take Friday off to travel to Frankfort and protest. It would “not be appropriate to use a sick day for this purpose,” the post continued.
During his Monday morning press conference, Bevin took aim at the statewide teachers union, the Kentucky Education Association.
“The issue isn’t the teachers. Teachers want to teach their children,” Bevin said. “The KEA has been a problem.”
In a statement Monday afternoon, KEA President Stephanie Winkler rejected that claim.
“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,” Winkler said. “If the governor wants to work with ‘job creators and taxpayers’ why does he insist on insulting so many people who do both?”
As teachers’ movement grows, splits appear over next moves and possible sickouts
Bevin said that the teachers union, which organized last Monday’s rally in Frankfortwhen the tax and budget bills were passed, has been “very vocal, very loud, by refusing to be part of the solution.”
“Even though, in reality, their members are going to be the beneficiaries of us getting this right,” he said.
In its statement, the union said that though the budget and tax reform bills “are not perfect,” Bevin should not veto them.
“The legislators who crafted those bills did not do so lightly,” the union statement said. “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.”
Teachers and their allies have previously voiced support for the budget bill for boosting per-student funding to $4,000 and restoring cuts to transportation funding, among other provisions.
The union did not address in its statement whether it would support a teacher walkout if Bevin proceeds with his vetoes of the budget in tax bills.
During Monday’s press conference, Bevin also spoke at length about the pension reform bill, criticizing it for not going far enough to solve the state’s pension crisis.
The statewide union had previously called on Bevin to veto the bill, arguing that changes to retirement benefits for future teachers will result in fewer educators choosing to start their careers in Kentucky.
Bevin did not indicate on Monday whether he would veto the pension bill. He has until midnight Tuesday to do so.