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Parnell supports sending constitutional amendment to voters

Posted: February 20, 2013 - 11:10pm

JUNEAU — Gov. Sean Parnell supports legislative efforts to let voters decide whether to change the constitution to allow public funds to be used for private schools, his spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Sharon Leighow said Parnell has always supported more choices in education for parents and that as a legislator, Parnell helped establish charter schools.

“In the case at hand, the governor supports legislative efforts to move the resolution to the voters for Alaskans to have their say,” she said in an email.

The Alaska Constitution states that public money cannot be appropriated except for a public purpose. HJR1 and SJR9, as proposed in the House and Senate, respectively, would add that nothing in that section shall prevent payment of public funds “for the direct educational benefit of students as provided by law.”

The measure would have to pass with a two-thirds vote of each the House and Senate before it could be put to voters.

A similar measure died in the House last year but the issue has gotten new life with changes in the makeup of the legislature. Supporters say the proposal would give parents more choice in where to send their kids to school. But opponents fear it could take money away from the public education system.

The issue of so-called school choice is emerging as a flashpoint in the debate over education — and education funding — in Alaska.

The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, in a recent editorial, noted that a number of legislators from the Wasilla area, including Senate President Charlie Huggins, have been clear in their support of choice. “But in this case, that will mean changing our constitution so it is legal to send limited public tax dollars to religious and other private schools,” the editorial said. “This is surely not an appropriate use by Huggins of the bully pulpit of the Senate presidency. We call on all of our elected representatives to uphold the oath they swore to honor and defend our constitution. And we encourage all citizens to do the same.”

Leaders of the new GOP-led Senate drew criticism last week for pulling an Education committee referral for SJR9, and instead having it heard by the Senate Judiciary and Finance committees. Huggins at the time said the measure involves a legal issue and that he made a mistake in initially referring it to the Education committee. The majority caucus issued a statement Tuesday saying the measure could be heard by the Education committee if “significant education issues arise” during the legislative process.

The chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Gary Stevens, who was gone when the measure was introduced and pulled last week, has vowed to hold hearings on school vouchers regardless of whether he has SJR9 in his committee or not.

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Raoulduke 02/21/13 - 11:25 am
tax monies

What the heck is Parnell thinking? Using state tax dollars for private parochial schools.The tax dollars Which 84% of property taxes,and 100% of sales tax on the Kenai go to funding PUBLIC Schools.Where will the extra income get raised to fund private schools?Higher personal property tax,Higher sales tax.Where? If not higher taxes,Which schools will get less funding?So to fund a private school.I believe in separation of church,and state.Churches,and any affilliation of a church is tax exempt.If the law was changed for churches to pay taxes as any other business.Then,and only then.

Norseman 02/21/13 - 12:12 pm
I for one REFUSE to provide

I for one REFUSE to provide any of my taxes to fund private religous schools.

If someone wants to send their kid to a;
Aladura, Amish, Anglicanism, Asatru, Bah'ai, Baptist, Bön , Buddhism, Candomble, Cao Dai, Catholicism, Chinese Religion, Chopra Center, Christianity, Christian Science, Confucianism, Conservative Judaism, Divine Science, Eckankar, Epicureanism, Episcopalianism, Falun Gong, Germanic Heathenism, Greco-Roman Religion, Hare Krishna, (ISKCON), Hasidic Judaism, Hellenic Reconstructionism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Judaism, Kemetic, Reconstructionism, Lutheranism, Mahayana, Buddhism, Mayan Religion, Mithraism, Mormonism (LDS), Neopaganism, New Thought, Nichiren, Buddhism, The Occult, Orthodox Christianity, Orthodox Judaism, Presbyterianism, Protestantism, Pure Land, Buddhism, Quakers, RastafariReligious, Satanism, Seventh-day Adventist, Shaivism, Shinto, Sikhism, Stoicism, Tendai, Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, Taoism, Tibetan Buddhism, Umbanda Unification Church, Unitarian Universalism, Unity Church, Vampirism, Vaishnavism, Voodoo, Westboro Baptist Church, Wicca, Worldwide Church of God, ZenZoroastrainism.

I am sure I missed quite a few others. So who is going to determine which religion gets funded and which do not? I am sure jerry prevo and his big bucks lobbyists will say that they should get the lions share since theirs is the only true religion. At least that is what some baptists said during the election. After all, according to them, mormonism is a cult.

How bout them mormons? Or Satanists? Who the hell wants a westboro babtist church school funded with your tax dollars?

This rates as one of the dumbest and stupidest ideas to come out of the piehole of huggins yet.

Keep seperation between church and state. Any parent who doesn't like our public education system can pay for any private or religious school themselves.

Time to start electing people who don't have self serving agendas.......

jimlbak 02/21/13 - 01:42 pm
Read the resolution

The Blaine amendment historically is based on the battle between Protestant run public schools and Catholic run schools. Long time gone today.

This resolution is aimed on an 1875 federal resolution that did not pass Congress. It's known as the Blaine Amendment. When Mr. Blaine could not get a U.S. Constitutional change he went after a law. That law which passed, forced every territory in the country to adopt the Blaine Amendment in their state constitutions in order to become a state. Good old fashioned Federal mandate. Oh by the way, states before then for the most part don't have this requirement

I see the old mantra, separation of church and state. Please stop this misnomer there is no separation of church and state in the Constitution. The document says government will not establish a religion.

All this resolution does is ask the people of Alaska to vote at the General Election in November, 2014 to answer the question, do you believe the Blaine Amendment should be removed from our constitution. It may open up the door for school choice legislation, it may not. This vote will not make that decision. It will allow high school students working hard and graduating to go to college to choose which college they go to. If the voting public supports it, if nothing else it may send a message that Alaskans are tired of Federal Mandates.

cbeard 02/21/13 - 05:04 pm
Public Schools ONLY

And people wonder why our students are lagging behind and our schools face budget deficits. Too many uneducated parents are jumping ship for religious or cultural indoctrination in churches or in the home. This means lower public enrollment and lower assessed needs for funding, so everybody suffers and EVERYBODY pays more taxes to cover emergency expenditures (whether it's construction, overtime, facilities bonds, etc.)

Any parents or providers who take public education money for private indoctrination whether it's religious or not is stealing, and they should be put in jail.

Raoulduke 02/21/13 - 05:52 pm
door opening

Why put anything to the citizenry. That would eventually get tied up in the courts? Make the law makers RICHER! Why not? We let them openly steal now.

Norseman 02/21/13 - 06:09 pm
..."It will allow high school

..."It will allow high school students working hard and graduating to go to college to choose which college they go to...."

Not sure what you are smoking to come up with that dribble. Perhaps you need to read what it actually is intended to do. Here is a short quote.
"“But in this case, that will mean changing our constitution so it is legal to send limited public tax dollars to religious and other private schools,” the editorial said................"

jimlbak, you are a spinster, kinda like what is on faux news.

The bottom line here is that some religious extremists WANT taxpayers to fund RELIGIOUS or PRIVATE schools. College comes after...duh...

Leave our constituition alone. Leave our public school system alone. If you want to send your kid to any one of the above mentioned religious schools, do so with your own dollars.
It galls me to think that I would ever have to see my tax monies go to educating someone belonging to a religious sect.
I can see it now, Satanists playing football against the mormons, muslims soccer team against baptists,
special school diets for the Jews, muslims, and catholics.

Republicans need to quit being the stupid party......

leewaytooo 02/22/13 - 04:34 am
"Justice Hugo Black adopted

"Justice Hugo Black adopted Jefferson's words in the voice of the Court, and concluded that "government must be neutral among religions and nonreligion: it cannot promote, endorse, or fund religion or religious institutions."[4] The Court has affirmed it often, with majority, but not unanimous, support."

the first admendment is incomplete,, as it needs to read..

"freedom from religion", as well.

beaverlooper 02/24/13 - 03:26 pm
Religious or not, private

Religious or not, private schools get to pick and chose those who attend their school.Of course they will pick students with high grades,without special needs and those who are constantly in trouble.When I went to school there always 2 or3 maybe four people who always disrupted the class.Teachers spent 3/4 of their time on those few,and didn't have the time to give the attention needed for the rest of the class . Those kinds of kids probably won't get picked by the private schools unless the law requires it. So with no kid left behind, public schools will get less funding because they won't be able to meet criteria where private schools ,where all students get equal amounts of the teachers time and baseline grade averages are higher will get full funding.
As for home schooled students why don't they have to meet no child left behind benchmarks?

jlmh 02/24/13 - 05:11 pm
Beaverlooper, you're starting

Beaverlooper, you're starting to touch on some of the real challenges of a voucher system. Public schools must accept all applicants who live in their boundaries, must accommodate a growing population, must provide special education services, bus routes, free or reduced-price school lunch programs, etc. When a school is able to be selective, limit space, or skip requirements that public schools have, they can indeed perform better. But that does not mean they are serving the educational needs of the community the same way. It just means they can do a better job with the students they do enroll. Is that really an overall better situation? I don't know.

Religious affiliations have nothing to do with it. As long as public schools exist and parents have the option of enrolling students in non-religious institutions, their choice to attend a private school with or without state funds does not amount to government "establishing religion" or "prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The Supreme Court already examined these arguments in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris and ruled in favor of school vouchers, even when applied to parochial schools.

leewaytooo 02/27/13 - 03:34 am
Everson v. Board of

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1 (1947

in zelman v..... the majorities opinion centered on
the premise that once the money for vouchers was in
the hands of the people that it was not up to govt.
where they spent that voucher...

nice dodge around everson v. which clearly stated
that there was to be NONE.

any tax payer monies that end up supporting any
religious entity is unconstitutional...

fix the problems in public schools, do not add to the
situation by taking more money away.

laws are basically fads, they come and they go
depending on who has the votes..

spwright 02/27/13 - 03:40 pm
Amendment 1

Quote: "Congress shall make NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,or of the press;or the right of the people to peaceably assemble,and to petition the Government for redress of grievances"

Now Rant & Rave, Cuss & Discuss this Amendment is the Bottom Line Rule of Law period end of story.

SPW "Airborne"

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