Whitmer vetoes bill giving Michigan families access to school scholarships

Whitmer vetoes bill giving Michigan families access to school scholarships

Supporters are now moving forward with a ballot initiative.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Nov. 5 vetoed two bills creating a new education scholarship program for Michigan families.

Senate Bills 687 and 688 and House Bills 5404 and 5405 would have allowed Michiganders to get a tax credit for donating to eligible scholarship organizations, which then award scholarships to eligible students.

Student eligibility would be based on income level or special needs. And parents would have been able to choose the best educational fit for their child and use scholarship funds on qualifying costs such as school fees, private school tuition, books and other educational expenses.

The veto comes as no surprise after Whitmer referred to the legislation as a “non-starter” and claimed it would “drain resources from our public schools.”

But supporters argue that quality isn’t consistent – especially for low-income families – and students need access to the learning environment that best suits their needs.

“If we’ve learned anything in the past two years, it’s that parents need as many opportunities as possible to help their children get a great education,” Michigan Association for Public School Academies President Dan Quisenberry said in a statement.

Recent polling indicates more than 75% of Michigan voters support the right of parents to choose what school their children attend. School choice proponents are counting on this support to bypass Whitmer’s veto.

The Let MI Kids Learn ballot committee, formed Nov. 1, will begin collecting petition signatures in favor of the opportunity scholarship package. If the group collects 340,000 signatures and the Michigan House and Senate approve the legislation, it automatically becomes law.

“This exciting legislation gives new opportunities to learn to children, and new choices to tens of thousands of Michigan parents,” said Fred Wszolek, spokesman for Let MI Kids Learn.

“But Gov. Whitmer stands in the schoolhouse door with her veto pen, determined to strip families of any choice, and deny children the money they deserve for educational opportunities. We’re just as determined to veto Whitmer’s veto with our petition.”

In other words, the battle over whether education dollars in Michigan should fund students or systems has just begun.

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