Josiah Bartlett Center responds to Factually Incorrect Veto of School Choice Scholarship Act

A number of people have asked about the clear factual error in the governor’s veto message on SB 372, the school choice bill. Some sections are misleading but there is one clear, undeniable, egregious factual error.

Statement of Charlie Arlinghaus (President, Josiah Bartlett Center):

The Governor’s Big Mistake

Governors should read bills before they veto them. To prove that point, Gov. Lynch vetoed a bill today citing a provision that isn’t part of the bill. Oops. The mistake:

His official veto message of the school choice scholarship act claimed he objected because “while the intent of the bill, in part, is to provide financial assistance to less fortunate students in helping them switch to a private school, a substantial portion of scholarships are available with no income restrictions.”

It just isn’t true. The bill, SB372, quite clearly requires all scholarships to be means tested at 300% of the federal poverty limit (SB 372, section VIII (b)). Some early draft in the legislative process may have allowed some scholarships without means testing but the bill the governor vetoed does not.

A veto is not a mere statement of opinion; it is an act which overturns the will of the Legislature – in this case, a Legislature which worked extremely hard to address an important issue and express that issue via the legislation, passed by clear majorities, presented to him. The Legislature did its job; the least the voters can expect is that the Governor do his and read and understand what is presented to him. If a veto follows from that, so be it. But it is unfortunate and troubling to veto a bill not because of a difference of opinion but because you think the bill does something it doesn’t.

The simple solution: Read it before you veto it.