Gov. Matt Bevin has issued seven more vetoes, delaying a free community college scholarship program, cutting out parts of the state budget and killing a new driver’s license bill.
Bevin has now vetoed all or part of 14 bills in the wake of his first legislative session as governor.
“Today’s action will create economic opportunity and provide benefits to generations for years to come,” Bevin said in a statement.
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.
Work Ready was a major ambition of Democrats, who fought to include it in the final compromise budget. Republicans fought for performance funding, which was included in the separate operating bill.
Since language for the initiatives is still included in the state budget bill, Bevin said the programs would be able to continue.
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, a Democrat from Prestonsburg, was upset by the decision, saying it would “impact every high school student across Kentucky.”
“Students would have been able to attend college beginning this fall, tuition-free, and be ready to work upon graduation,” Stumbo said in a statement. “No forward-thinking governor would’ve acted in this way. It is a sad and unfortunate day for all of Kentucky.”
Bevin also vetoed a provision that would have expanded eligibility requirements for children attending pre-school programs to up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line.
“Mandated expansion of eligibility, however desirable, is not prudent in tight fiscal times,” he said.
Bevin vetoed parts of a bill that would have replenished lottery money used for the Work Ready program and a dual-credit program, saying lottery funds were appropriately used.
He also eliminated budget language that would have allowed the state to reopen three private prisons in case of overcrowding, saying that the state “shouldn’t limit its options in dealing with any potential state prison population challenges.”
Another line-item veto in the budget eliminated a $400,000 appropriation to ARC of Kentucky, which advocates for disabled people.
“While their work should be applauded, nonprofits are strongest when they are not dependent on tax dollars for operations,” Bevin said. “We encourage ARC of Kentucky to continue to move forward with their passionate advocacy and focus their fundraising efforts on private sector and foundation support.”
Bevin also vetoed bills that would have extended unemployment benefits to workers who leave a job to follow a spouse in the military, as well as the “Real ID” bill, which would have brought Kentucky’s driver’s licenses into compliance with federal law.
Bevin previously supported the Real ID bill but said “tremendous opposition and misunderstanding” of it calls for more discussion.
“We also owe the voters of Kentucky the ability to see what effect, if any, the next presidential administration will have on the issue,” Bevin wrote.
Bevin made several line-item vetoes to the Transportation Cabinet budget and eliminated some reporting requirements in the six-year road plan that he called “over-burdensome and redundant.”
Although lawmakers normally have an opportunity to override any vetoes the governor makes with majority votes in both chambers, they ran out of time in the legislative session this year.