Apparently, there are some Republicans who still don’t know what time it is, and one of those is Gov. Spencer Cox of Utah.
The push for school choice has become a frontline issue for parents across the country. Much headway on that front has been made in the last few years, and you would expect deep-red states to be leading the way in the fight. Unfortunately, Utah isn’t joining that number.
Instead, Spencer has announced he will veto House Bill 331, which would provide education vouchers in the form of scholarship accounts. That would allow parents to use that money at any school they choose, including private schools.
This per The Daily Caller.
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Utah’s Republican Gov. Spencer Cox vowed to veto a school choice bill on Thursday as school choice advocates point out that the Governor accepted $75,000 in campaign funds from the nation’s largest teachers union.
Cox said during his monthly news conference that he would veto House Bill 331, which would create an educational voucher program that establishes “scholarship accounts on behalf of eligible students to pay for private education goods and services” for the 2023-2024 school year, according to a local news outlet.
“Yeah. Yeah, I would,” Cox said on vetoing the bill. “At some point, I will be absolutely willing to support vouchers, but that point is not now because we are underfunding our schools.”
Yeah, you read that right. Spencer is vetoing a school choice bill after previously receiving $75,000 in campaign funds from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union and one that has caused incredible harm to children during the COVID-19 pandemic. What kind of Republican gets that kind of payout from an organization that almost exclusively funds Democrats? Utah voters should have probably asked that question before electing Spencer.
It’s the excuse given that really pushes the limits of absurdity, though. Spencer says he’ll support vouchers in the future but can’t now because schools are being underfunded. But if those schools were actually doing a good enough job to retain students, why would a voucher system result in less funding? That feels like an admission that some schools are failing, but that the system must be rigged to keep the taxpayer-funded monopoly afloat. To be frank, that’s a position often taken by Democrats, so it’s odd to see it coming from a Republican.
Spencer also stated the following on his radio show, raising further questions about his motivations.
The Governor said that he will support funding a voucher program when the starting salaries for teachers hits $60,000.
That seems like a demand straight from the teachers union. Why would a voucher program be dependent on the starting salaries for public school teachers? Those aren’t even related issues.
Regardless, there is a possibility that the heavily-GOP Utah legislature will override any veto by Spencer. That would be the proper move. The time to give parents choice is now, not five years from now, and any Republican taking gobs of cash from the nation’s largest teachers union should be looked at with a skeptical eye.
In the end, there’s still a lot of rot to clean out of the Republican Party. Far too many GOP politicians are still comfortable treating voters as if the last five years didn’t happen, valuing pointless shows of moderation over actually doing what’s right. If Spencer doesn’t want to wake up and understand that parental choice is now a cornerstone issue, he can reap the consequences of that.