Whitmer vetoes GOP scholarship bills Dems call ‘voucher plan’ | #Education


LANSING, MI — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed several Republican-sponsored bills Friday that would have granted tax credits for contributions to scholarship programs that could be used for nonpublic schooling.

The governor had promised last month to veto the proposed scholarship program that Democratic critics said would have incentivized sending kids to private schools.

Republican supporters of the bills say they want Michigan parents to be able to use money from wealthy donors to help meet the educational needs of their children, including the use of alternative and nonpublic programs.

But Democrats see the legislation as an attempt to implement a voucher program that wouldn’t line up with the state constitution, which requires Michigan to maintain and support a system of free, public elementary and secondary schools.

Though Whitmer vetoed the bills — Senate Bills 687 and 688 and House Bill 5405 — a petition initiative based on the legislation that would allow public funding to be steered to private schooling is currently in the works.

The Let MI Kids Learn ballot committee could get the proposal to the Republican-led legislature for it to adopt without Whitmer’s approval with just over 340,000 signatures.

Read more: Petition initiative aims to bypass Whitmer veto of tax credits for nonpublic schooling

In a letter explaining her veto, Whitmer called the Republican effort to help fund private education in Michigan a “catastrophic failure.”

“Simply put, our schools cannot provide the high-quality education our kids deserve if we turn private schools into tax shelters for the wealthy. The movement to privatize education in this state has been a catastrophic failure, causing Michigan students to fall behind the rest of the nation,” Whitmer said.

Democrats have been quick to point a finger at former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, whose family has long backed attempts to clear the way for public dollars to be used for nonpublic education alternatives.

A spokesperson for the Let Kids Learn committee confirmed last week the DeVos family is among the supporters of their petition initiative.

Republican sponsors of the legislation argued that their proposal would offer more flexibility and choices in education and would address disparities in educational options available to students.

Read more: GOP scholarship tax credit bills that Dems call ‘voucher schemes’ pass House and Senate

Senate Bill 687 would create Michigan Opportunity Scholarship Accounts that would be funded by donations from Michigan taxpayers. The accounts could be used for tutoring, supplemental textbooks, career technical education, summer education programs or advanced classes for students who can’t currently access them.

Senate Bill 688 would create tax credits for contributions to scholarship-granting organizations and the deduction of funds distributed to student opportunity scholarship accounts.

Michigan students would have been eligible for scholarships based on family income, or if they had a disability or were in foster care.

Michigan-based school-choice advocates like the Great Lakes Education Project criticized Whitmer for her veto Friday, saying the governor “ignored parents and slashed education funding for more than 1 million Michigan students.”

“Gretchen Whitmer didn’t just veto legislation — she took away tutors, mental health treatment, after-school programs, textbooks, broadband Internet access and reading supports from Michigan kids,” executive director Beth DeShone said in a statement.

Read more from MLive:

Work remains to end disparities caused by K-12 funding gap, advocates say

Tension builds as Detroit redistricting commissioners seek major changes to political maps

Michigan’s Indigenous tribes ask Biden to shut down Line 5



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