Fateful Friday? Budget, revenue bills on the line as teachers return to Frankfort
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Thousands of teachers are expected to fill Frankfort on Friday as lawmakers return for the last two days of the legislative session with a number of bills still on their agenda.
The General Assembly will also have the chance to override Gov. Matt Bevin's vetoes of the budget and revenue bills.
That is what has thousands of teachers planning to attend a "Day of Action" at the capitol on Friday. Dozens of school districts across the region - and even across the state - have closed school Friday to allow teachers and administrators to go to Frankfort.
Unlike previous rallies at the capitol, leaders with the statewide teachers union say there is no planned agenda or lineup of speakers. They want people to meet with their legislators and urge them to override the governor's vetoes.
For that to happen, lawmakers need a "constitutional majority" - a total of more than half of the members elected in each chamber. The magic number, then, is 20 in the Senate and 51 in the House. The revenue bill originally passed with exactly that number of 'yes' votes in each chamber. The budget bill passed by a slightly larger margin.
The last day of the session is Saturday. If the legislature does not override the governor's vetoes, the governor could call lawmakers back for a special session. If a budget is not in place by July 1, the state government would partially shut down.
Teachers at 17 schools in Lexington held their signs and stood their ground at "walk-in" rallies across the city on Thursday. A big crowd also lined the streets of Harrodsburg Road on Wednesday urging folks to contact their legislators.
Educators have been vocal all session long as lawmakers debated pension reform and budget and revenue measures. The pension bill is now law - and subject of a lawsuit filed by the attorney general. Teachers since have turned their attention to a renewed call for full funding for public schools.
Police have prepared for big crowds in Frankfort on Friday. State troopers said they are working with other agencies to establish safety protocols inside the capitol and annex buildings, and they might have to limit the crowd size inside those buildings to keep hallways clear.
Police say Capitol Avenue will remain open to traffic, but drivers are asked to avoid it if possible. They are warning people in and around Frankfort to be prepared for increased traffic.