Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Davis County Clipper Party Lines: Both sides dig in over voucher debate

By Richard Watson

Last week, Mark Shurtleff, Utah Attorney General, offered his own legal opinion on the proposed referendum for citizens to vote on the private school voucher program. According to Mr. Shurtleff, even if Utah voters choose not to support vouchers, the voucher program may stand on its own. What Mr. Shurtleff is referring to is another bill, HB174 which is an amendment bill to HB148. In his opinion, HB174 would keep the voucher program intact, even if voters reject the voucher program as stated in HB148. In spite of that, Shurtleff is saying that there is nothing we can do and that the petition drive might be a waste of time. In other words, the top elected Utah Republicans could care less what the people of Utah want.

Shurtleff also commented that there may be some constitutional questions over the legitimacy of the voucher program. Even with legal questions, according to our Attorney General, HB174 adjusts the previously passed voucher bill with “sensible” amendments along with “mitigation monies” which would help the voucher program to continue.

Fortunately, other legal opinions are in favor of the “people”. A former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice, Michael Zimmerman, cites that the Utah Constitution forbids using public funds for religious education. Other attorneys also agree with Zimmerman and believe the voucher program will more than likely be defeated in the courts. What’s more, the Florida Supreme Court struck down their voucher program for the same constitutional reasons.

But regardless of what the legal questions are surrounding vouchers, a more important question needs to be addressed. What about the will of the people? Over the years, so many polls have shown that Utahns are against private school vouchers. Yet, our elected leaders and Republican controlled legislature are comfortable in ignoring what the citizens want. Instead of “We the People”, Republican lawmakers believe that they “Are The People”. If our elected leaders feel that they represent Utah and they feel that vouchers are justifiable, then why are they worried about a referendum?

Yet, in the past few weeks, Parents For Choice (PCE) has sent letters to their Republican “friends” and urging all good Republicans to not sign the petition. Using their usual “evil liberal” vocabulary, they are implying that the “liberal” petition supporters are trying to overturn a law passed by the Republican-led legislature. The letter also states that the “liberal education unions” are trying to force their “liberal” agendas on our children. As I read the letter, sent out by Doug Holmes, PCE Chairman, I could not help but chuckle over his choice of words. Since when did underpaid teachers (“unions”) have a monopoly on education?

A quote from President Kennedy’s historian, John Kenneth Galbraith, sums up the intent of PCE and our Republican controlled Legislature. He said, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.”

To read Republican Vice Chair Todd Weiler's article click here.


A single mom said...

Good article - although you know I don't agree with it.

One point of order

"President Kennedy’s historian, John Kenneth Galbraith.."

Galbraith was an economist, Arthur Schleisnger, Jr - who recently passed away was Kennedy's historian.

Frank Staheli said...

It's inflammatory to impute words to the Attorney General that he did not say. He did not give his opinion as to whether he liked vouchers, as he should not have. From a legal perspective, he said that the referendum is barking up the wrong tree. That's all.

You may be right that vouchers will be struck down constitutionally in court. In my opinion, they should not be. In my opinion they are constitutional.

Richard Watson said...

Galbraith was both, an economist and a historian.
Kennedy had several historians. Schleisnger was the most popular one because of the many books he authored.
But, thanks for pointing that out. It's nice to know there are some who are paying attention.
No problem with disagreeing, but you do agree that the will of the people has been lost in the voucher debate. If the people want a vote, then I see no problem with the people voicing their opinion through a referendum.
By the way, in an earlier post, are you really a male with a wife? or was that joke?

A single mom said...

that was a joke in poor taste...I am a single mother

Anonymous said...

Relax Ma, or do I need to call your wife.