FRANKFORT, Ky. — Comparing lawmakers from his own party to children coveting sugary cereal, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin on Monday vetoed a $480 million tax increase the legislature used to fuel record increases in public education spending.
Bevin's veto came a week after thousands of teachers across the state held a protest at the Capitol, clogging the halls just outside his office to chant "shut it down" and "vote them out." Two weeks ago, nearly two dozen school districts were forced to close as teachers collectively called in sick to protest a separate bill that would make changes to their retirement system by closing the traditional pension plan for new hires in favor of a hybrid option that puts less risk on the state.
Lawmakers were able to cool tensions by voting to impose a 6 percent sales tax on services like auto and home repairs along with a 50-cent per pack increase on cigarettes in a state with the highest smoking rate in the nation. The new money was enough for lawmakers to spend $4,000 on every public school student for the first time in state history, and the state's largest union urged educators to return to work.