FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A bill aimed at jump-starting the introduction of charter schools in Kentucky won approval from a Senate panel on Monday, putting it one vote away from clearing the Republican-led legislature.
The measure calls for initial charter school openings — one each in Louisville and northern Kentucky — and would set up a permanent funding stream for charters.
The proposal remained intact with no changes in clearing the Senate Education Committee. If it passes the Senate without changes, the bill would go to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear, who has vowed to veto it. By passing it this week, the bill’s supporters could mount a veto override vote during the legislature’s wrap-up work in mid-April.
Another high-profile bill to tighten rules for public assistance programs in Kentucky was advanced by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee on Monday, setting up a full Senate vote. The panel made changes to the bill, meaning it would have to return to the House for further action.
A handful of Senate committees met Monday, adding to the lineup of bills awaiting floor action. The House and Senate reconvene Tuesday for the first of two scheduled work days this week before an extended break to allow the governor to decide whether to sign or veto bills sent to him.
The overriding issue awaiting action is on the state’s next two-year state budget. House and Senate leaders crafting a final proposal were scheduled to meet Tuesday. Another key pending issue revolves around legislation to revamp the state’s tax code.
On the hot-button issue of charter schools, the bill reviewed Monday continued to draw vigorous opposition from public education groups. Opponents said charter schools would divert funding from traditional public schools and raised questions about oversight of charters.
Supporters said it would give parents more choices for their children’s schooling.
Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature authorized charter schools in 2017 but none have been created because lawmakers did not provide a permanent funding mechanism.
The new measure would set up a long-term funding method for charter schools. Public charters, like traditional public schools, would receive a mix of local and state tax support.
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