No Veto Override: A Missed Opportunity for Louisiana’s Kids
Yesterday, Louisiana House of Representatives Speaker Clay Schexnayder and Senate President Page Cortez notified members of the legislature that a special session will not be held to consider overriding some or all of the 29 bills Governor Edwards vetoed from the 2022 Regular Session. This is because a sufficient number of lawmakers — 39 House members (32 Democrats, 1 Independent, 6 Republicans) and 25 Senators (12 Democrats, 13 Republicans), to be exact — had returned ballots indicating they believed such a session was not necessary.
Among the bills vetoed were three bills that would have expanded K-12 school choice for Louisiana kids and their families:
- House Bill 194: Would have deposited state funds otherwise allocated to public schools for the education of Louisiana children with disabilities into special accounts that parents could have used to send their child to a private school or to fund a home-based individualized education program
- Senate Bill 203: Would have deposited state funds otherwise allocated to public schools for the education of 2nd and 3rd graders who are behind in reading into special accounts that parents could have used to send their child to a private school or to fund a home-based individualized education program
- Senate Bill 145: Would have expedited the process for charter schools created through partnerships with large regional businesses (like the current charter schools created in partnership with Ochsner Health and Woman’s Hospital) to be approved and would have allowed children from multiple parishes to attend
As the Advocate reported, while a majority of House members didn’t express disagreement with a veto override session, a majority of senators did. This is surprising, given that the bills vetoed by a Democrat governor were passed with overwhelming support from Republican senators who make up 67 percent of all Senate seats. Roughly the same percentage of House members are Republicans. School choice has always been a major policy platform for Republicans, at both the national and state levels.
Exactly why lawmakers opposed a veto override session isn’t clear, although it’s always difficult to ascertain whether the required two-thirds vote in each chamber is actually there to accomplish a veto override.
There’s one thing we know for sure, though, and it’s that Louisiana’s kids and their families need and deserve the same types of educational options that are being provided in other states. Lawmakers, particularly conservatives who ran on advancing school choice, have unfortunately missed a great opportunity to do just that.