One would think that Utah voters' overwhelming rejection of private school vouchers earlier this month would inject a little humility into the legislative leaders who tried so relentlessly to push the nation's first universal voucher law down the throats of their reluctant constituents.
But with the cumulative ego of the Republican-dominated Legislature reaching Godzilla-like proportions, it would take more than a thrashing at the polls to tame it. Hardly any time passed between the defeat of the voucher law and suggestions from lawmakers that tax credits be given to businesses which contribute to private school scholarships. That less-direct use of the public till to fund private schools would be just as unpalatable as the rejected law, but never mind.
There is more. The pro-voucher lawmakers have talked up the idea that the State School Board should be expanded from 15 to 29 members, resulting in one school board district for each Utah Senate district.
Politically tone-deaf legislators like Sen. Curt Bramble, R-Provo, and Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, also have resurrected a proposal to make State School Board elections partisan. Political parties would nominate their candidates, who then would run for the board under their party labels. Going through the party convention and primary process would make school board members more accountable to their constituents, the senators claim.
Translated into English, that means they would be more accountable to the right-wing zealots who seem to control the Republican conventions, and less accountable to the more moderate people who actually comprise the majority of the Utah Republican Party.
After all, many of the convention delegates are the same folks, or at least cut from the same cloth, as the delegates to the 2000 GOP convention who booed Sen. Orrin Hatch, Gov. Mike Leavitt and former LDS Relief Society President Barbara Smith as being too liberal. Then they forced Leavitt into a primary against unknown, last-minute candidate Glen Davis. With a wider Republican electorate able to vote in the primary, Leavitt stomped the "message" candidate.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
"Hell Hath No Fury Like a Pack Of Utah Legislators Scorned"
So says Paul Rolly in his column last Sunday.