Michigan Legislature advances K-12 scholarship bills

Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Bills that would create scholarships for K-12 students for a variety of uses advanced in both the Michigan Senate and Michigan House Tuesday.

But the legislation does not have a promising future.

In the House education committee, bills 5404 and 5405 were discussed and ultimately voted on to full chamber.

The bills, as described by one of the sponsors, Rep. Bryan Posthumus, R-Cannon Township, would create something called “student opportunity scholarships.”

According to Posthumus, those scholarships would be created with private funds and would be granted by an authority the bills would create.

Some of the uses for the money could include tuition for dual enrolment college classes while in high school, tutoring, transportation to schools of choice, books and online courses.

“Essentially what we’re doing is creating a non-government organization, the ability to open up non-government organizations called scholarship granting organizations,” Posthumus said. “These scholarship granting organizations could then use private funds to offer student opportunity scholarships to students throughout the state of Michigan. They can then use the scholarships funds, the student can use these funds for approved educational expenses.”

The straight party line vote — with Democrats all voting no — suggested problems for the bills when they get to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.

In a Tuesday statement, the governor’s office said in part:

“The Michigan Constitution sets up a system of school funding designed to ensure the quality of free public education in Michigan. This legislation undermines that constitutional guarantee, permitting the diversion of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars annually to private institutions. Michiganders are tired of the attempts to force a Betsy DeVos-style voucher program that drain resources from our public schools. This legislation is a non-starter.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office

The Senate has similar legislation in bills 687 and 688 that passed the full chamber Tuesday.

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