Kentucky has spent nearly $18 million over the past six years to bus students to private schools, most of which are religious. That’s despite the fact that the state constitution prohibits state funds from aiding any “church, sectarian or denominational” school.
The Lexington Herald- Leader reports state financial records show that 8,375 private school students were bused last year using a subsidy of $2.9 million. In addition, many local governments kick in their own funds because the state subsidy does not cover the need.
In 2013, 19 counties requested about $3.9 million in subsidy from the state and got about $3 million, leaving an unfunded gap of $830,000.
The subsidy began in its current form in 1998 under Democratic Gov. Paul Patton. It was challenged, but the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled 4-to-3 against the challenge in 1999. The majority opinion found the subsidy was not state aid for religious schools, but rather aid for children attending the schools.