“Sick and Tired of Vetoes”
BISMARCK – House Majority Leader Mike Lefor, R-Dis. 37, Dickinson, said he is sick and tired of vetoes before the North Dakota State House failed Tuesday to override Gov. Doug Burgum’s veto of a bill to give students of private schools financial aid.
House Bill 1532, being called the “school choice” bill, would have provided a $10 million appropriation to qualified private schools for the purpose of offsetting the cost for parents, no more than 30% of the per student rate which would be roughly $1,200 per student. The Senate amended the bill so families under 500% of the federal poverty level would be eligible for the tuition funds, which is a family of four making $150,000 a year.
The governor vetoed the bill earlier this month, and his objections were read before the House assembly.
“Our administration supports school choice and believes that competition can improve outcomes in the K-12 education system,” Burgum wrote. “However, in its final amended form this bill is not the comprehensive solution we need. It falls short of meaningful enhancing school choice, especially in rural areas far from any existing non-public school and lacks incentives to expand non-traditional options in K-12 education. The bill also lacks public transparency and accountability standards for the actual use of the proposed tuition offset payments.”
Burgum also wrote that the idea would need time and study.
“This is a disappointing veto,” said Lefor. “We’ve had committee hearings. We have vetted the bill. I’m getting sick and tired of vetoes. I feel our branch is getting disrespected. We’re not asking for a lot here.”
Lefor said taxpayers pay $2.6 billion on public schools while the bill is asking for $10 million for private school children.
“I find the governor’s message weak,” said Lefor. “He said it’s too early. I’m saying it’s too late. Let’s get in the game. The bill provides accountability. It gives the state auditor the opportunity to audit the program. The bill also provides program suspension if they don’t follow the rules. Everyone here is a taxpayer. We all have the same burdens that public school parents have. It’s time to send another message back to the executive branch, we don’t appreciate our good public policy constantly coming back to us.”
The bill failed in the House 52 to 41.