Thursday, March 10, 2011
Voucher Opposition Makes Strange Bedfellows
It's getting serious in the Indiana General Assembly as the battle lines begin to be drawn over a controversial bill which would provide "scholarships" to families that make up to 250 percent of the level that qualifies you for free and reduced school lunch to attend private or public schools that charge tuition. The cash for those "scholarships" would come out of the pocket of traditional public schools. This is House Bill 1003, and this bill has broad bi-partisan opposition.
Whether or not that is enough to kill that bill remains to be seen.
WISH-TV's Jim Shella reported today that Republican Brent Steele, a Senate member from Bedford, wrote a very passionate letter to his colleagues. In the letter, he indicates that he does not want tax money to go to fringe religious groups along the line of the Westboro Baptist Church in order to educate children.
House District 92 Representative Phil Hinkle is also opposed to vouchers. I confirmed this with him on Friday in a casual conversation. Hinkle has long been in the corner of public schools on the voucher debate.
Also in the corner of public schools is the lone Democrat to vote for the charter school bill earlier this year, Mary Ann Sullivan. Sullivan confirmed to me in an e-mail a few weeks ago that she is strongly against vouchers.
Of course, all is on hold right now in the House. Democrats remain holed up in Urbana, Illinois. So far, neither side seems to be budging, and, as long as Democrats stay in Illinois, no action can be taken on HB 1003. That's one of the many things at stake right now and why Dems continue to stay away.
You can bet that House Speaker Brian Bosma, Governor Mitch Daniels, and State School Superintendent Tony Bennett continue to use the time to arm twist and try to change votes. The resulting battle on HB 1003 should be very interesting.