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Here's How Bevin Exercised His Veto Power

Governor Matt Bevin issued final action on the new budget adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly - but not without also introducing the state to his veto pen.

In an announcement, Bevin called the budget "historic" and said that it "invests an unprecedented amount of dollars into the state's ailing pension systems and restores fiscal responsibility in state government."

“We are delighted that this budget makes a historic commitment to our ailing pension system and restores fiscal responsibility in state government,” said Bevin, who took office in December. “All of the goals that we outlined in January to repair our financial foundation have been achieved. First and foremost, we are being good stewards of the hard-earned dollars that are entrusted to us. We are committing funds to address the backlogs of untested rape kits, dedicating the lottery proceeds entirely for education, putting resources directly into workforce training, strengthening the fight against substance abuse and keeping the promise made to our teachers and other retired state workers. Today’s action will create economic opportunity and provide benefits to generations for years to come.”

Bevin cited these points as highlights in the budget:

  • Strengthens Kentucky's financial foundation by signing the most fiscally conservative budget in decades. 
  • Keeps promise to Kentucky’s public servants, teachers and retired workers and dedicates $1 billion to our pension system. More money to our pension system than any previous budget.
  • Invests in workforce development by establishing a $100 million bond pool to support workforce training initiatives statewide. 
  • Protects the SEEK formula while holding the per-pupil funding harmless from any reduction.
  • Dedicates all available lottery proceeds entirely to education, as originally promised to Kentuckians.
  • Provides increase in investment to front-line members of Kentucky’s law enforcement, including pay raises for Kentucky State Police.
  • Makes additional funds immediately available to begin addressing the backlogs of untested rape kits and other types of forensic testing in order to bring justice to the victims.
  • Bolsters the fight against substance abuse by fully funding the 2015 anti-heroin legislation. 
  • Redirects an unprecedented amount of coal severance funds back to the counties and communities where the coal industry has been hit hardest.
  • Invests in infrastructure for the future.
  • Creates a permanent pension fund to address the ongoing need to fix our unfunded pension systems.

But Bevin also axed some points. WFPL reported, in line-item vetoes of the state budget, Bevin eliminated funding for the first year of the “Work Ready” free community college tuition program. He also eliminated a bill that contained operating language for the program and other education initiatives, saying they were “hastily written. “Developing and implementing a properly functioning Work Ready Scholarship program will take a great deal of time and effort,” Bevin said, according to the Louisville radio station.

The initiative was a priority of Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo of Prestonburg.

In a statement, reported by the Courier-Journal, Stumbo said Bevin's vetoes "will impact every high school student across Kentucky and their families because the students would have been able to attend college beginning this fall tuition-free and be ready for work upon graduation."

Bevin also vetoed the bill that created a so-called REAL ID, under Senate Bill 245. The Herald-Leader reported that Bevin supported the bill during the legislative session but changed his mind amid what he called "tremendous opposition and misunderstanding". The new driver’s licenses, the Lexington paper reported, would have been optional. But anyone who does not have a new license by Oct. 1, 2020, would have to use a U.S. passport, a passport card or some other acceptable form of identification to board a domestic flight. It costs $135 to get a passport and takes about six weeks to get one. A passport card costs $55 and cannot be used for international travel.

Other vetoes include an annual allocation for organizations that assist mentally-disabled people, parts of the road plan, incentives for hiring new employees, coal severance funding for education programs, and a bill related to public defenders, according to the Glasgow Daily Times.

-Staff report