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SCOTT DREYER: Budget Bullies Attack Popular Scholarships For Low-Income Kids

As noted here, here and elsewhere, The Roanoke Star has been reporting on the huge surpluses in the state’s coffers and also the months-long budget impasse brought about by a GOP-led House of Delegates versus a Democrat-led state Senate. Pro-growth Virginians were generally pleased with the new proposed budget the General Assembly finally produced this week.

(Stephen Haner, writing for the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy (TJI), pointed out that the tax cut on groceries, while a welcome step and spearheaded by Valley Del. Joe McNamara (R-Salem), does not go into effect until January 1. Haner argues that a July 1 start date would have been far more helpful, by granting more immediate relief. Despite raging inflation, Virginia shoppers will have to wait for seven months for that tax cut to kick in, instead of one month. Plus, seemingly without irony, a new sales tax exemption for pet medications will go into effect July 1. So, you’ll soon get a tax break on Fido’s tick and flea meds, but have to wait till next year for tax relief on your own vittles. But I digress.)

Buried deep in the details of the new state budget lay a huge shock for pro-school choice Virginians.

Chris Braunlich, also with the TJI, put it this way in an email to supporters:

This was supposed to be a note celebrating our victory in winning most of the tax battle in Richmond.
Instead, it’s a note asking your help in preserving Virginia’s one program providing children educational opportunities.
Please let me explain.
Under Governor Bob McDonnell, Virginia created an Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit (EISTC). Today, it provides an opportunity for low and middle income children to attend a private school that better suits their needs.
The easiest way to explain how it works is to watch this video.
But instead of working to expand the program, we are now working to keep it from being slashed by more than half.
The program is under fire in the budget conference report, negotiated in secret and approved by the General Assembly (it could not be amended on the floor). An amendment that was snuck in cuts the program to $12 million, even though it was growing at 20 percent a year and offering educational opportunity to thousands of students across Virginia.
It means nearly 1,000 children will be thrown out of a program giving them hope.
I do not believe Governor Youngkin was aware the General Assembly was going to do this. I know Lt. Governor Earle-Sears was not aware.
But the Governor can help save this program. He can offer an amendment to the budget bill restoring the program and keeping education choice alive in Virginia (….)
I know it comes soon after a hard-fought victory you made possible on the standard deduction.
But a governor elected on education issues ought not to be forced to preside over cuts to the only (and very small) education choice program in Virginia.
And it is always easier to offer an amendment if the Governor can point to overwhelming public support for it.
Please help today. Click here to email Governor Youngkin. Click here to sign our petition.
The nation has been roiled recently by the Supreme Court draft letter regarding Roe vs. Wade. Many who call themselves “pro-choice” have been stridently repeating the mantra, “My body my choice.” (During the past year or so of vax mandates to keep one’s job, vax passports to enter buildings, mask requirements etc., many of those same people were stricken with mysterious and severe cases of lockjaw, rendering them speechless. But again I digress.)
But in the true spirit of “pro-choice,” why not give parents and children more choices in which school and mode of education they believe is the best fit for them? As a culture, we don’t assign people to a certain grocery store based on their zip code. Why do we do it that way for schools?

-Scott Dreyer

Scott Dreyer at Bryce Canyon
Scott Dreyer M.A. of Roanoke has been a licensed teacher since 1987 and now leads a team of educators teaching English and ESL to a global audience. Photo at Utah’s iconic Bryce Canyon. Learn more at

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