On March 15 the Arizona House passed HB 2279, a bill that would provide “Parental Choice Grants” to low-income parents, on a vote of 31 to 27__the minimum number of votes needed for passage. The bill was then approved by the Senate Education Committee on March 25. The bill has the endorsement of Governor Jane Hull and the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lisa Graham Keegan. Grants would be worth either about $4,800 or the cost of tuition, whichever is less. (Arizona Republic, 03/16/99; press release from TEACH Michigan, 03/30/99)
State Representative Lenore Barrett has announced the establishment of the Barrett Task Force to promote school choice via tax credits in next year’s legislative session. The task force will have three main goals: 1) to inform state residents about specific provisions contained in school choice legislation; 2) to organize statewide efforts to enact school choice via tax credits; and 3) to review and enhance proposed legislation and prepare it for passage in the legislature. The task force will be comprised of elected officials and citizens. For more information on the task force or school choice efforts in Idaho, contact Laird Maxwell, chairman of Idahoans for Tax Reform and task force coordinator, at 208/331-1996.
Governor Gary Johnson fulfilled his promise to veto any budget that did not include his plans for tax cuts and vouchers. Johnson has vetoed both the education budget and the entire state budget, saying the state’s budget was the worst he has seen the legislature pass in the last five years.
Johnson has called a special session on May 4 for the legislature to address his demands for an income tax cut and a voucher program. Johnson’s plan would provide vouchers worth about $3,200 for students to attend public or private schools of their choice. (Institute for Justice memorandum, 04/12/99; State of New Mexico Web site)
New York’s Newsday featured an article on one of the Blum Center’s long-time contacts in New York__Tim Mulhearn, president of United New Yorkers for Choice in Education (UNYCE). Mulhearn has worked tirelessly for years in New York on the issue of school choice, as the article states, “out of borrowed space in a local Catholic school.” Mulhearn stressed in his interview with the paper that “this is not an anti-public school movement. Not at all. It’s just pro-education in the broadest, most inclusive sense.” To contact Mulhearn regarding school choice activity in New York, call 516/292-1224.
The Public Policy Forum__a nonpartisan research group based in Milwaukee__has concluded that the expanded Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) has not drained money from the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) budget in the manner that some anti-voucher groups have claimed it would. Emily Van Dunk, senior researcher for the Public Policy Forum, says that although MPCP has not necessarily improved the MPS budget, neither have the budgets necessarily been harmed by it. Van Dunk stated, “At this point, while some people are arguing that this is a hardship for MPS, our data suggests that the financial impact has been negligible in the first year.” The Public Policy Forum will release a more detailed report in the next few weeks. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 04/17/99)
Excerpted with permission from The Freedom Report (#70, April 23, 1999), Blum Center for Parental Freedom in Education, Marquette University, Brooks Hall 209, P.O. Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881, phone 414/288-7040, fax 414/288-3170, e-mail [email protected] David D. Urbanski, Director. The full Freedom Report, done in cooperation with the Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation, is available from the Blum Center, or at www.mu.edu/blum.