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Whitmer vetoes bill allowing tax breaks for donations to private school funds

Governor Gretchen Whitmer photo
State of Michigan
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Governor said it would be a loophole for the wealthy

Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed legislation Friday that would have allowed tax breaks for donations to funds that provide financial support to private schools. The governor said that would violate the state constitution.

The Republican-controlled Legislature sent bills to the Democratic governor that would have allowed tax-deductible donations to accounts set up to help lower-income families defray the costs of private and parochial school tuition.

However, a 1970 voter-approved amendment to the Michigan Constitution bans taxpayer support for non-public schools, whether directly or indirectly. In her veto letter, Governor Whitmer said bills sent to her by the Republican-controlled Legislature would run afoul of that amendment.

Bobby Leddy is the governor’s press secretary. He said there should be room for consensus on things like expanding the availability of pre-school and childcare.

“Those are the things that she’s focused on and this bill doesn’t make that cut," Leddy said. "We know that schools still need the resources that they need. This is an attempt to go around the will of the people.”

In her veto letter, Whitmer also said the bills would turn private schools in Michigan into tax shelters for the wealthy.

A petition drive could soon start gathering signatures to adopt an initiative to enact a similar law that could not be vetoed. The governor has asked people to decline to sign the petitions.

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