FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – It was a packed room as the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee discussed House Bill 205 Tuesday. The bill would grant tax credits to people who donate to scholarship funds for special-needs children or those in foster care or in low-income homes to attend private schools.
People in favor wore the yellow school choice sashes, while those against wore red for public education.
Things got a little testy when Democratic Representative Kelly Flood of Lexington questioned school choice advocates. There was also some tension between Chairman Steven Rudy and some Kentucky superintendents.
Kesia Hatcher was one of the parents who joined bill sponsor and former educator Bam Carney to advocate for tax credits for private school scholarships donations.
“The school that they were attending wasn’t a good fit for them because they had such severe learning differences,” said Hatcher.
Robert Sexton says his son attends private school because of his severe learning disability.
“If this scholarship tax credit is passed, it will be able to help me to be able to spend more time with my son while he’s in high school. If not, I’ll continue to work 60 to 70 hours a week for my son to go to school,” said Sexton.
Several Kentucky superintendents spoke against the bill, including Montgomery County’s Matt Thompson, who says it would drain local school districts funding.
“We would see no reduction in teachers needed, we would see no reduction in bus routes needed, we would see no reduction in utility costs,” said Thompson.
Logan County Schools superintendent Paul Mullen believes the tax credits could put school safety legislation in jeopardy.
“The $25 million identified in year one would go a long way to funding improved safety requirements like mental counseling, safety vestibules, school resource officers,” said Mullins.
House Majority Leader John “Bam” Carney says he doesn’t have 60 votes yet to pass the legislation in the full general assembly.