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Whitmer vetoes bills to allow tax breaks for financial support to private schools

Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed bills Friday that would have allowed tax breaks for donations to funds that support private and parochial schools.

In her veto letters, Whitmer excoriated Michigan’s decades-long foray into charter schools, calling it “a catastrophic failure.” She also said the bills would siphon money from public schools.

“This legislation would require Michigan taxpayers to foot the bill for any money a person gives to

certain private education organizations, costing as much as $500 million in 2022 alone,” she wrote. “Simply

put, our schools cannot provide the high-quality education our kids deserve if we turn private

schools into tax shelters for the wealthy.”

The governor also said the bills would the 1970 voter-approved amendment to the Michigan Constitution that bans taxpayer support for non-public schools, whether directly or indirectly.

The vetoes were expected after the Republican-led Legislature sent them to Whitmer, but GOP lawmakers issued a blast of statements.

Senator Lana Theis, who chairs the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee, has been a frequent critic of Whitmer’s school policies and COVID-19 orders that shut down schools during the pandemic.

She said “…The governor has again rejected progress for the same old, tired and failing approach to education because she is beholden to the teachers unions and their generous donations.”

But this is not likely to be the final word on this issue. A petition drive is expected to soon start gathering signatures to adopt a veto-proof initiative that’s similar to the vetoed legislation.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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