Whitmer vetoed tax breaks for private schools


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed bills on Friday that would allow public funds to subsidize private education.

The veto was expected and sets up an attempt by Republicans to bypass the Democratic governor’s veto with a state vote proposal petition campaign.

The two bills, passed along party lines in October, would have granted tax credits to anyone contributing to scholarships covering the tuition fees of private schools, or for tuition and other services that supplement the tuition fees in private or parish schools.

What is at issue are the provisions in the legislation allowing funds from non-taxable scholarship programs to finance the tuition fees of private or religious schools. Students in qualifying private schools could receive up to $ 7,830 per year or 90% of the per-student funding provided to students in public schools.

Democrats and public school advocates see this effort as a back door attempt to legalize vouchers, which a 1970 state constitutional amendment banned., with a similar effort rejected by voters statewide two decades ago.

Critics of the bills said funds that would be used primarily to subsidize private and parish school tuition fees would take money away from public schools in the state.

In a letter to the Legislature explaining its veto, Whitmer said the legislation “would require Michigan taxpayers to foot the bill for all money a person donates to certain private education organizations, which would cost up to ‘to $ 500 million in 2022 alone. Simply put, our schools cannot provide the high quality education our children deserve if we turn private schools into tax shelters for the rich. “

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which advocates free market principles and limited government, lambasted Whitmer’s veto.

“Many Michigan parents claim their trust as key partners and decision makers in their children’s education, to provide them with the help and opportunities they need,” said Ben DeGrow, director of education policy at Mackinac Center, in a statement. “It’s extremely disappointing to see Governor Whitmer wielding his power to… appease union officials and bureaucrats who don’t even want to share a little control over education dollars.”

The problem is not going to go away any time soon. This week, a group launched a petition that, with enough signatures, could allow the program to become law over Whitmer’s objections.

If the group collects 340,000 signatures – 8% of the turnout in the last governorate election – and the GOP-controlled House and Senate approve the legislation, it automatically becomes law without the governor’s signature.

By approving the ballot proposal themselves, Republican lawmakers would avoid the risk of voters rejecting the idea again – Michigan citizens rejected a good proposal in 2000, with 69% voting no, despite campaigning aggressive led by a great defender, Betsy DeVos.

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