FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A judge in Frankfurt heard lengthy arguments on Thursday over the constitutionality of allowing the use of scholarship tax credits to support private school tuition fees.
Opponents said the provisions represent a form of private education aid – through the state’s tax code – that is prohibited by the Kentucky constitution. Lawyers defending the measure said the tax credits did not amount to government spending, arguing that the provisions were constitutional.
“The General Assembly has wide discretion as to how it might want to incentivize charitable behavior and donations using tax structures,” Deputy Deputy Attorney General Christopher Thacker said in defending the provisions .
The Franklin County Circuit Court hearing focused on a key piece of new state law enacted by the Republican-dominated legislature over the veto of Democratic Governor Andy Beshear.
The law created a form of scholarship tax credits – called by supporters educational opportunity accounts. Private donors backed by accounts would be eligible for tax credits. The grants, managed by third-party groups, could be used for educational expenses, including tuition for private schools in many of the state’s most populous counties.
Opponents of the measure say it would undermine support for public education. The provisions are being challenged by the Council for Better Education.