My priorities for the 2023 session include protection for unborn babies, protection for religious freedom, greater K-12 school choice for parents and students, ample funding for public education, and safeguards for the property rights of farmers in response to the proposed carbon pipelines. Improvement of mental health services and increase in nursing home reimbursement are two other important quality-of-life issues we should address.
Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)
During her Condition of the State address, Governor Reynolds unveiled a new ESA bill. School choice has been a priority of hers for several years. She boldly led on the issue during the election campaign and voters resoundingly reelected her. The governor’s bill gives parents more options, regardless of their zip code or income. Her plan phases in low- and average-income families currently in a non-public school and kindergartners. It expands over the next few years to eventually include all families.
Governor Reynolds is also proposing a notable increase in school district control over state dollars sent to the districts. Over the years, the Legislature has developed a number of K-12 programs and allocated funding to be used only on those programs. Some districts have sizable unspent balances for these programs. These funds would be freed up to increase teacher salaries, so instead of money sitting in accounts unspent, it could be used to help schools raise teacher pay and attract teachers to fill open teaching positions.
The governor’s proposal also includes more than $1,200 per student in new money to the resident school district of any student in a private school who has an education savings account. This money is in addition to the property tax revenue schools currently receive for a student who resides in the school district, whether students are attending a public school or not. This new funding is also in addition to the half-a-billion dollars in new money allocated to K-12 schools since 2017. Transportation equity funding has also helped rural schools address their high transportation costs.
I look forward to learning more details about the governor’s bill and working to strike a healthy balance between promoting quality public education and honoring the desire of many parents for more diverse options when it comes to their children’s schooling. It need not be—and should not be—a zero-sum game where one gains at the expense of the other. Both are important.
i don’t think there is any “quality public education”. The schools teach against the truth of the Scriptures in so many ways. If you don’t believe the Bible- fine. If you do believe the Bible then take your kids out of school. The Bible says “train up a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it”. Who are you allowing to train your child?