CV NEWS FEED // Gov. Josh Shapiro, D-PA, who campaigned as a strong supporter of school choice, now says he will scrub a school choice program he once championed from the state budget.
Shapiro on Wednesday declared he would issue a line-item veto of the proposed Pennsylvania Award for Student Success (PASS) scholarship, a voucher program allocating $15,000 per eligible student on a yearly basis for education costs in schools of each family’s choice.
Shapiro claimed to still “support” PASS, despite killing it. He blamed his decision on his own party, which holds a razor-thin one-seat majority in the State House. Democrats had voted the program down in committee after the Republican-controlled state Senate included it in the budget they passed.
“Knowing that the two chambers will not reach consensus at this time to enact PASS, and unwilling to hold up our entire budget process over this issue, I will line-item veto the full $1000 million appropriation and it will not be part of this budget bill,” stated Shapiro.
FOX News reported Shapiro’s school choice reversal “surprised state lawmakers and caused tensions within his party that led to House Democrats demanding $750 million more in aid for public schools that state Senate Republicans had not agreed to.”
Greg Price, the communications director for the State Freedom Caucus Network, tweeted a screenshot of Shapiro’s statement on social media. “After previously pledging to support school choice,” Price wrote,
Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announces that he will cave to the teachers union bought and paid for Democrat majority in the PA House and line-item veto the full $100M appropriation for voucher programs and scholarships that provide educational opportunity to low-income children.
While campaigning for the Pennsylvania governorship last year, Shapiro claimed that, unlike most members of his party, he was a backer of school choice initiatives. During an interview, Shapiro disagreed with the popular Democratic talking point that school choice allegedly harms public schools. “This is not an either-or,” he said:
I think this is a both-and. I think we can invest in public education and empower parents to put their kids in the best opportunity for them to succeed, and I don’t think we have to harm public schools in the process.
Candidate Shapiro also promised to devote “additional funding” to school choice programs.
He would go on to win that election in a landslide, besting Republican nominee Doug Mastriano by 15 points.
Eric Boehm of Reason Magazine wrote that Shapiro’s wider-than-expected margin of victory “stood in stark contrast to the results a year earlier in Virginia—a similarly sized, blue-ish state—where Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe’s campaign imploded after he took a teachers union–approved hardline stance against school choice.”
Boehm went on to argue:
Campaign promises are often made to be broken, but this is one that Shapiro seemed determined to keep. Less than two weeks ago, he popped up on Fox News to reiterate his support for school choice in the midst of a heated budget battle in the state capital. He continued to push the program even after the state’s largest teachers union condemned the voucher bill.
The Republican Caucus of the Pennsylvania State Senate stated in response to Shapiro’s surprise reversal that they “negotiated in good faith and were eager to stand with Governor Shapiro on one of his priority campaign commitments—supporting school choice opportunities.”
“Today,” they continued, “Governor Shapiro has decided to betray the good faith agreement we reached, leaving tens of thousands of children across Pennsylvania in failing schools.”
CatholicVote Communications Director and LOOP Editor Josh Mercer weighed in against Shapiro’s decision as well.
“For a brief moment, it looked like a statewide Democrat might actually join the school choice movement,” Mercer said:
But at the last minute, the teachers’ unions issued their demand to kill school choice in Pennsylvania – and they spend millions and millions of dollars to elect Democrats to office. That’s why Gov. Shapiro abandoned Pennsylvania families and proved he is a Democrat first and foremost.