School vouchers, "education opportunity accounts." "education tax credits," are all names for structures that divert revenue away from public schools and other state programs for the benefit of private schools. Some programs do that directly (true vouchers), others accomplish the same goal indirectly, through tax credits for contributions made to "scholarship" or "opportunity" programs.  Regardless of the structure, KEA opposes all school voucher schemes.

HB149 and SB25 seek to establish the "Education Opportunity Account Program," which is a school voucher scheme. KEA opposes both bills.

If passed, the “Education Opportunity Accounts” in HB149 and SB25 will award huge tax credits to rich Kentuckians and their private companies.  Foregoing legitimate tax revenue for this purpose or any other decreases general fund revenue, which adversely impacts public education and every other government program.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Research Commission, the impact of these proposals could cost the state over $205 million in lost revenue after just 5 years.  Even the most conservative legislator will acknowledge that Kentucky currently doesn’t have enough revenue to cover its legitimate expenditures; that being the case, why make that situation $205 million worse? That revenue is desperately needed to fund public education and to support other necessary government expenditures.  The Commonwealth must generate more revenue to improve the circumstances for every citizen instead of providing financial benefits for the wealthy and their corporations, particularly when those schemes are being championed by out-of-state special interests.

KEA believes every student deserves an excellent public school education, regardless of their zip code or their financial circumstances. Public education funding in Kentucky is down over 16% since 2008 and continues to be a smaller portion of the Commonwealth’s overall budget each year.

Here’s what school vouchers and similar tax credit schemes really do:

  • Reduce general fund revenue, which means less money for everything in the state budget, but particularly, less money for the state portion of SEEK funding, which is critical to all students. 
  • Make public schools prioritize or eliminate critical student support functions, forcing choices among school safety, textbooks/technology, special education, transportation, and other essential programs. We cannot afford to reduce state revenues when the needs for adequate education support and pension funding are so critical!
  • Reduce student enrollment in public schools. Reduced enrollment creates uncertainty in district budgeting, leading to less funding for the classrooms and educational staff for children. Fixed costs remain with less revenue to meet them.
  • Benefit urban private schools at the expense of rural public schools.  Simply put, there are fewer private schools in Kentucky’s rural counties.  Implementing any scheme that encourages enrollment in private schools at taxpayer expense by reducing available revenue will benefit urban private schools while rural schools and their students pay the real cost of that decision.  Need to see the proof?  According to the 2018-19 data, 60% of Kentucky counties do not have any private schools, so the citizens in those counties would not receive any benefit from passage of this bill. Their tax dollars will go to students who attend private elementary or middle schools in these Kentucky counties, or who attend private high schools in these counties.
  • Give your public tax dollars to private schools with no oversight on curriculum, student assessment or student and educator anti-discrimination practices. 
  • Decrease tax obligations for the rich at the expense of the average citizen.

Printable PDF of these "no school vouchers" talking points

Printable map of KY counties without any private schools (based on 2018-19 data)

Printable map of KY private elementary and middle schools, by county (based on 2018-19 data)

Printable map of KY private high schools, by county (based on 2018-19 data)