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N.C. Opinions: Raleigh

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Reckless on vouchers

From an editorial Monday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:

It really is time to stop calling those who run the N.C. General Assembly conservatives. They are not conservative. They are reckless.

The legislature passed as part of the state budget a provision for $10 million in so-called “opportunity scholarships” for students from low-income families. The vouchers are intended to provide as many as 2,400 students up to $4,200 each annually. They could use the vouchers to attend K-12 private schools, including religious schools.

Naturally, two lawsuits challenged the voucher program. In February, Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood issued a temporary injunction blocking the law pending a ruling in the cases.

That’s where the cases should stand. If the law is upheld, then proceed. But the legislature’s Republican leaders, Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis, are taking a damn-the-torpedoes approach. They want to start handing out vouchers before it has been determined that such payments are legal.

Tillis and Berger announced last week that they intend to ask the state Supreme Court to stay Hobgood’s injunction. The two Republican leaders claim the injunction jeopardizes public funding for other state-supported education programs including private university scholarships and pre-kindergarten.

That is an extreme reading of the injunction’s basis. Reason and prudence would dictate a more cautious approach, but Tillis and Berger long ago showed they aren’t about being conservative.

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