Friday, December 6, 2019

MI: Governor Whitmer Files Private School-Whomping Brief

Back in 2016, the Michigan legislature, always on the lookout for a way to send public tax dollars into private pockets, passed Section 388.1752b, a little amendment to the School Aid act that required the state to reimburse private schools for any money they spent "complying with health, safety, or welfare requirement mandated by a law or administrative rule of this state."

In other words, the state would pay them to follow the law.

This lady. I like this lady.
It's intriguing to imagine how a law like this would play out in the rest of the private sector. "We have a bunch of work to do to get up to code, but don't worry-- the state will pay for all of it." It's easy to imagine how this could be abused as well. Church needs some more access ramps and that will mean redoing the whole façade of the building; just call the state and have them write a check.

But Michigan has an constitutional ban on giving public money to private and/or religious schools. So roughly five minutes after 388.1752b was passed, it was being taken to court. Now that it's made it to the Michigan Supreme Court, it's been generating a steady string of motions and amicus briefs from interested parties, like the Michigan Catholic Conference.

Today the stack of briefs got a bit taller with an addition from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Michael Rice.

Having taken a look at the case, the governor and superintendent have concluded "that the state can provide funds to nonpublic schools to help them pay the costs of complying with state mandates, but only if those mandates are related to student transportation. Beyond that, the statute’s funding of nonpublic schools is constitutionally prohibited."

In other words, the private schools, says the governor, may go pound sand, and do it on their own dime. But they can have busses.

Hard to say how this will turn out, but I have to say that it's certainlyj a breath of fresh air to see a governor, particularly in the state of Michigan (Motto: Betsy DeVos is our least popular export).

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