Today the House adjourned sine die at 9:16 a.m. The session is over for them. The Senate is still wrangling.
Unfortunately, before adjourning, the House passed SB 81 (Lewis) – to authorize tax credits for private and religious education school scholarships.
As MEA-MFT has stated so many times before, proponents of so-called school “choice” — including the Koch Brothers, ALEC, Institute for Justice (funded by the Kochs), Friedman Foundation, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and Montana’s own Montana Family Foundation — will never give up their effort to privatize our public schools for anti-government, private profit, libertarian, and religious reasons.
They caused a record number of 7 privatization bills to be introduced in this session: 3 voucher bills, 2 charter school bills, and 2 tax credit bills.
The public school education community killed them all except SB 81, which popped out of House Appropriations Monday, passed 2d reading Tuesday, and passed on 3d today (Wednesday).
SB 81 passed not because a majority of legislators think it is good public policy whose time has come, but because too many R-Party legislators fear being “primaried” by Tea Party proponents of public school privatization. Dark money paranoia begets weak-kneed voting.
In this era of term limits, more than almost anything incumbents fear losing the next election and will do what it takes to limit the chance of that happening.
And then, of course, there were political deals to be made, votes to be traded, and interim committee assignments to be had down the road.
So, public school privatizers will declare victory because for the first time in Montana history, they have passed a tax credit bill.
Fortunately, the legislature does not have the last word on this issue.
The governor does.