Concord Monitor: Voucher bill probably to be retained over the summer and state employees oppose DOE reorganization

Voucher bill to be retained?

The Monitor’s Capital Beat noted today that SB 193, providing for education savings accounts (or vouchers), is highlighting divisions among House Republicans:

Party members broadly agree parents should be able to use state-raised money to send their kids to private schools. Even Jeb Bush endorses the policy. He wrote in the Monitor recently that the education savings accounts are a “natural fit” for the state’s families.

But a clash among House GOP members over whether religious schools should be included is threatening to sink the proposal this year.

Conservative representatives say they should. But, heeding warnings about possible legal challenges, some Republican leaders want sectarian schools excluded.

The problems are too big to iron out quickly, members said. And instead of sending a half-baked proposal to a near certain death in the Republican-led House, the committee will likely hold the bill over the summer for more work.

State Employees Association announces opposition to DOE reorganization

Reporter Allie Morris goes on to report that the State Employees Association has weighed in opposing Education Commissioner Edelblut’s reorganization proposal:

The largest union of state employees is wading into the political debate over Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. The State Employees Association sent out a newsletter urging members to call their representatives and oppose a last-minute bill giving Edelblut authority to restructure the department.

Critics call the bill a power grab, but sponsor Sen. John Reagan says it’s a house-keeping measure to give the new commissioner flexibility. The SEA points to 1997, when the Legislature gave the then -head of health and human services broad ability to reshape the department. Fifty-eight people were laid off, while others were demoted, according to the union’s blog post.

“The bottom line is that this kind of drastic overhaul requires thoughtful consideration and strong knowledge of the agency,” SEA President Rich Gulla wrote. “With zero experience and only being on the job for a couple months, Commissioner Edelblut couldn’t even have learned everyone’s name yet, let alone how the agency works.”

A hearing on the proposal is set for Tuesday.

Get the details here.