Judge reviews tax credits to support private school tuition

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A judge in Frankfort heard lengthy arguments Thursday over the constitutionality of allowing the use of scholarship tax credits to support private school tuition.

Opponents said the provisions represent a form of aid to private education — through the state tax code — that’s prohibited by Kentucky’s Constitution. Attorneys defending the measure said tax credits don’t amount to government spending in arguing the provisions are constitutional.

“The General Assembly has a lot of discretion as to how it might want to incentivize charitable behavior and giving using the tax structures,” state Assistant Deputy Attorney General Christopher Thacker said in defending the provisions.

The hearing in Franklin County Circuit Court focused on a key part of a new state law enacted by the Republican-dominated legislature over Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto.

The law created a form of scholarship tax credits — referred to by supporters as education opportunity accounts. Private donors backing the accounts would be eligible for tax credits. The grants, managed by third-party groups, could be used for educational expenses — including private school tuition in several of the state’s most populated counties.

The measure’s opponents say it would undermine support for public education. The provisions are being challenged by the Council for Better Education.


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