School Voucher Group Withdraws Leavitt Censure Resolution

School Voucher Group Withdraws Leavitt Censure Resolution

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- In light of the president's nomination of Gov. Mike Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a group advocating school vouchers has withdrawn its resolution to censure Leavitt from Saturday's state Republican Party convention.

Parents For Choice In Education had pre-filed the resolution that would "censure Gov. Leavitt for failing the families of Utah by opposing tuition tax credits and other meaningful options for fair educational choice."

"The question is now moot," Royce Van Tassell, executive director of PFCIE, said. "With the governor leaving the direction education policy takes in the state won't center on his (opposition) to tuition tax credits or fair choice."

Leavitt's nomination is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

However, Lt. Gov. Olene Walker, who carries a doctorate in education and has long been an advocate of public education, recently said that she would not support tuition tax credits until Utah's public education system is better funded.

"We prefer to give her the benefit of the doubt," said Van Tassell, could not have offered an anti-Walker resolution anyway, as the deadline for resolutions passed weeks ago.

"She has also said, in the past, that it will likely take some kind of coalition of parents and businessmen and others to change public education; that the system can't be changed from within," he said.

That group is now out there, and maybe Walker will listen to it, Van Tassell said.

Last year, a group of businessmen that Leavitt put together came back with a number of education reform recommendations, some of which were adopted by the 2003 Legislature. Among the group's suggestions not enacted was tuition tax credits.

State party leaders say they really don't know what would have happened if the Leavitt-censure resolution had passed.

"There are no censure provisions (in the party's constitution and bylaws), no power to do that," said Chris Bleak, GOP state executive director.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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