Kentucky Supreme Court throws out school choice program

Dec. 15, 2022
In a unanimous decision, the court said the program, which would have given tax credits to those donating money for nonpublic school tuition, violated the state constitution.

In a unanimous decision, the Kentucky Supreme Court has struck down a state law that would have allowed donors to receive tax credits for supporting private school tuition.

WLKY-TV reports that the court ruled 7 to 0 that the 2021 law violates the state's constitution.

“We are compelled to agree that the EOA Act violates the plain language of Section 184” of the state constitution, Deputy Chief Justice Lisabeth T. Hughes said in writing for the court. “Simply stated, it puts the Commonwealth in the business of raising “sum(s) . . . for education other than in common schools.”

Opponents of the law objected to using the tax code to aid private education. Supporters argued that tax credits didn't amount to government spending.

The measure was narrowly passed by the legislature over Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto.

After the ruling, Beshear said that the decision showed the state can’t send money directly to private schools — and they can’t send it indirectly either.

The program has been blocked by lower court proceedings for more than a year, the Louisville Courier Journal reports. It could have cost the state up to $25 million in its first year. Both individuals and corporations would have been able to write off up to $1 million on their state income taxes.

Under the challenged law, those who donate to scholarship-granting organizations would have received hefty tax credits from the state. The organizations would use donations to help low- and middle-income families pay for education expenses, most notably private school tuition in the largest counties.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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