Judge rules scholarship tax credits unconstitutional; KEA and KY United respond

Forward Kentucky
Forward Kentucky

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled today that the bill establishing "scholarship tax credits" was unconstitutional, and he enjoined the state from either approving the creation of the organizations that would manage the credits or from granting tax credits for donations to those organizations.

Shepherd said, essentially, that giving tax credits (not charitable tax deductions) to persons funding such scholarships was in effect taking money out of the general fund, which meant less money for public schools. Thus, it brought the state closer to being in violation of the "efficient system of common schools" as ordered in the state constitution.

The Kentucky Education Association issued this statement in response to Shepherd's ruling:

KEA applauds judge’s ruling unconstitutionality of private school vouchers

Tax Credit Would Have Sent State Funds to Private School Coffers,
Violating Kentucky Constitution

FRANKFORT, Kentucky (October 8, 2021) – Franklin Circuit Court Judge Phillip Shepherd ruled today that HB 563, the controversial scholarship tax credit bill that was passed into law in the last days of the 2021 regular legislative session, is unconstitutional. A coalition of plaintiffs, including the Council for Better Education, filed suit in June challenging the constitutionality of the law. The Kentucky Education Association has expressed its support for the plaintiffs.

The following statement can be attributed to KEA President Eddie Campbell:

“We applaud the decision of Judge Shepherd today for upholding the constitution of Kentucky against an attempt to divert tax dollars from our public schools and students into the pockets of big corporations and wealthy individuals. This is a victory for our public schools, our public school students, and our Commonwealth’s constitution.

“HB 563 violates both the letter and the spirit of the Kentucky Constitution, which makes providing public education the state’s highest duty. These plaintiffs stood up for all Kentucky students to ensure that the legislature’s unconstitutional actions did not go unchecked, and the judge has affirmed their concerns.

“Under the Kentucky Constitution, the General Assembly must provide for and oversee an efficient system of common schools and cannot raise or spend funds on private schools that serve a select few. Judge Shepherd ruled that HB 563 violated that sound precedent as determined in the court’s ruling in Rose v. Council for Better Education.

“Research has shown that private school voucher programs in other states have demonstrated no positive effect on students’ educational outcomes, and often negatively impact student achievement. In fact, some evidence illustrates they may exacerbate school segregation and fund discrimination and they are prone to waste, fraud, and abuse.

“We simply can’t afford to support two different education systems — one private and one public — on the taxpayers’ dime, and the judge’s ruling supports that concern. HB 563 would have hurt students here in Kentucky because it undermines the hard work that has been done since to improve public education in the commonwealth since Rose. KEA is thankful that HB 563 has been ruled unconstitutional and will not be allowed to stand.”

KY 120 United responds

Here's the response KY 120 United posted on Facebook:


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