Kentucky House overrides tax increase veto amid teachers' rally

Dilapidated equipment is one of the major concerns of teachers going on strike in Oklahoma

As Kentucky teachers declare victory after the Republican-dominated legislature overrode vetoes from the state's GOP governor of a spending plan that included new money for education, the question going forward is whether teachers will be able to sustain their momentum into the fall elections when Republicans will try to defend their super majority.

Teachers from across the state rallied in Frankfort on Friday to encourage legislators to override the governor's vetoes of the tax reform bill and the budget. He added that he guaranteed a child was "physically assaulted or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn't have any money to take care of them".

"I'm not going to comment on something I'm just hearing about", he said.

The governor's response to the striking teachers sparked outcry and disbelief from state lawmakers and educators.

Lawmakers convened Friday to consider the governor's vetoes, and the votes are expected to be close.

Bevin had vetoed both bills, warning the new taxes would not generate enough money to cover the new spending.

Kentucky lawmakers have officially finalized an override of Gov. Bevin's veto of the $480 million tax hike that helps pay for increases in public education spending.

Pension is often the only income source after leaving the school system; according to the Herald-Leader, retired teachers in Kentucky can not collect Social Security. West Virginia teachers went on strike for more than a week in March, eventually receiving a 5 percent pay increase, Politico reported.

Bevin said he has put more money into teachers' pensions during three years in office than former Gov. Steve Beshear did in eight.

Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler told The Louisville Courier-Journal that he was "appalled" by Bevin's remarks.

Republican Rep. Jeff Hoover told his colleagues not to trust Bevin, reminding them the governor promised to call a special session previous year to change the state's struggling pension system, but never did.

In Oklahoma, the largest teachers union ended a nine-day walkout Thursday, but educators there vow to continue fighting.

"Here's what's insane to me", Bevin told a reporter from WDRB. "Despite what some legislators are incorrectly saying on my behalf, I am stating publicly that not only will I call a special session to pass a transparent and properly balanced budget, but that we will also pay for it in ways that are not arbitrary & complicated", he wrote.

Under the law, future Kentucky teachers will no longer be guaranteed defined retirement benefits. They are instead focused on overall funding.

"The KEA is a fraud", Bevin said.

"It's a constitutional requirement in the state of Kentucky to fund public education".

Middle school science teacher Leslie Atkins said several students came to her Thursday and asked if she was attending the rally "for us".

Current benefits for teachers will go untouched, but there will be a new pension plan for incoming ones.

Kentucky teachers at the state Capitol on Friday, April 13, 2018. The group started by encouraging teachers to wear red to school on Wednesdays, using the hashtag #RedforED in social media posts.

The pension changes have already drawn a court challenge.

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