Beaten in its first attempt to block a controversial tuition tax credit bill, the Alabama Education Association will go another round over the measure.
AEA executive secretary Henry Mabry said Thursday the organization plans to file another lawsuit against HB 84, which was signed into law by Gov. Robert Bentley Thursday morning.
“The implementation of this voucher bill will cost schools hundreds of millions of dollars and will create great uncertainty with the school systems that have targeted schools,” Mabry said in an interview. “It will create heartache for every system outside those districts with these.”
The legislation would allow parents of students in schools listed as failing to claim a tax credit that could be used to place their children in a private school or a non-failing public school. The bill would also allow school districts to apply for waivers from certain education laws, and authorize individuals and companies that donate money to groups giving scholarships to private schools to deduct those contributions from their income tax.
Supporters of the legislation say it will foster competition and encourage innovation in public education. Critics, including the AEA, have charge the legislation would drain the Education Trust Fund and do little to help students in failing schools.
Mabry said the suit would be filed “in a matter of days” and would challenge the constitutionality of the law. He declined to comment on further questions, such as whether the suit would be filed in state court or federal court.
Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, who engineered passage of the bill, said Thursday he believed “the bill was sound.”
“If I could give them any advice, I’d say spend that (lawsuit) money and work with these failing systems and try to develop a way to help these systems come out of a failing status,” he said.
AEA filed suit last week to block the law, saying Republicans who introduced a drastically-rewritten version of the bill in a conference committee had violated their own rules and, by extension, the state’s Open Meetings Law. Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price ruled for the AEA last week; the Alabama Supreme Court overruled him Wednesday, saying courts could not get involved in legislative rule-making.
– posted by Brian Lyman