Program for free college tuition delayed by veto

A program to provide a free college education to your child is delayed. Kentucky Gov.Matt Bevin vetoed House Bill 626 Wednesday night. The bill creates the scholarship program that pays tuition costs for college students seeking two-year associate’s degrees at in-state schools.

He also cut more than $9.4 million from the budget bill that would have gone to the program’s scholarships this fall. He did leave $15.9 million to fund scholarships in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which delays the program another year.

Many seniors at Marshall County High School are ready to leave those halls behind. A group of students I spoke with plans to move on to West Kentucky Community and Technical College.

"I’ve filled out my FASFA. I’ve done scholarships,"  said Marshall County high school senior Kali Humphrey.

Humphrey, Serrin Fields and Robert Woodard are already preparing to pay the costs of education. 

"I need money to save so I can eventually move out and not have to be stressed by school and work," Fields said.

That’s why Woodard said he’s disappointed House Bill 626 was vetoed. "Because, with how much I work, it would be great opportunity to have that and go to college free for the first two years," Woodard said.

Marshall County High School’s counselors say HB 626 would impact 25 to 30 percent of graduating seniors each year. Most of them choose to attend WKCTC.

A spokesperson for the college said it’s too soon to say how the governor’s decision will affect the school.

Lawmakers in support of the bill now have their work cut out for them.

"I thought it was a good bill, I fully supported it and I’m disappointed the governor disagreed," said Democratic state Rep. Gerald Watkins. 

Watkins was a cosponsor of the bill.

"I think it was a good bill. I think it would have been good for Kentucky, good for students and good for our employers," Watkins said.

Watkins said lawmakers will likely have to pass another bill to begin the scholarship program. Watkins said he’ll probably work to pass the bill again when the next budget session begins. 

Bevin has said by waiting another year, the program can be more effectively designed and implemented.

Bevin vetoed three other bills entirely, plus parts of four more bills, including more than 30 items within the budget bill.

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