Monday, 23 April, 2018

Thousands of Kentucky teachers rally for education funding

Teachers from across Kentucky are rallying against education cuts and pension reform Teachers from across Kentucky are rallying against education cuts and pension reform
Lisa Bryan | 15 April, 2018, 01:01

The teachers will also seek more funding for public education as they urge lawmakers to override Governor Matt Bevin's veto of the state's new two-year budget bill and the accompanying tax legislation. "I guarantee you somewhere today a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent doesn't have any money to take care of them", Gov. Bevin said. Teachers descended on the statehouse wearing red T-shirts and carrying signs that said "I love my public school".

Lawmakers convened Friday to consider the governor's vetoes, and the votes are expected to be close. The state has enough money to operate until June 30. He said he met with House and Senate leaders all week to propose a more "responsible way to pay for 100 percent of the requested education funding".

Thousands of teachers rallied inside and outside the Capitol on Friday.

Under Ducey's proposal, teachers' pay would increase 9% in the 2018 school year, then another 5% for the next two years, boosting the average salary to $58,130 from the current $48,372 by 2020.

Fayette County Education Association President Jessica Hiler said she did not know whether Fayette County teachers would participate in a sick-out on Friday as they did on March 30, forcing the cancellation of schools.

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

A survey done in 2011 and summarized in 2013 found that two percent of 5-year-olds and 6-year-olds who lived with their mother were left alone some of the time they weren't in school; that proportion increased to almost 30 percent of 14-year-olds.

Republican Rep. Jeff Hoover told his colleagues not to trust Bevin, reminding them the governor promised to call a special session previous year on pension reform but never did.

Interactive map: Which KY districts are closed Friday

Under the law, future Kentucky teachers will no longer be guaranteed defined retirement benefits. The governor could call lawmakers back for a special session to pass a new budget and revenue bills.

The Kentucky House has overridden Gov. Matt Bevin's veto of a two-year state spending plan that increases education funding with the help of a $480 million tax increase.

"My team and I have spent the past ten days with tax experts, as well as legislative leaders and staff, analyzing, scoring and attempting to correct House Bill 366, the revenue bill that Governor Bevin vetoed", state budget director John Chilton said in a statement that Bevin released on Twitter. But they also applauded Republicans who said they were voting to override the vetoes in order to fund education. "We knew we needed to be here and we needed to have a strong message and strong and steady presence".

"It's illegal for them to strike in this state", Bevin said.

The state will contribute more to teachers' pensions every month because they aren't eligible for Social Security.

Kentucky State Police limited access into the building to only 500 protesters at a time, creating a crowded bottleneck of people trying to enter the Capitol. People who oppose the plan are concerned it will discourage younger people from becoming teachers, according to the Washington Post.

Beshear said his office would file suit this week to challenge the new law that changes the state's troubled public pension systems.


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