Jefferson City woman’s petition open for comment

Proposed amendment would create education foundation

Secretary of State Jason Kander said Wednesday his office has approved the form of an initiative petition proposing to amend the Missouri Constitution’s Article IX, which covers education.

The initiative petition now is open for public comment, through Sunday.

The five-day public comment period allows Missourians to offer their observations on the submitted proposal — online, by mail or by phone.

Kander’s news release noted state law gives the secretary of state’s office 10 days, after approving the form of the petition, to draft the ballot summary language.

Missourians’ comments about the proposal will be reviewed as part of the process.

The petition (2014-045) was submitted by Barbara Swanson, Jefferson City.

Its complete text is available through a link on Kander’s website, at www.sos.mo.gov/elections/2014petitions/14init_pet_active.asp#2014-045.

Missourians can provide online comments about it, at www.sos.mo.gov/comment.

If the petition is approved for circulation, gets enough signatures in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts to be placed on the November 2014 ballot and then wins voters’ approval, the Constitution would get a new section to be known as the “Children’s Education Initiative.”

The proposed amendment says the initiative’s purpose “is to assist local communities in promoting high-quality elementary and secondary education for all Missouri school children.”

The amendment would allow the creation of Children’s Education Foundations, that would give tax credits for donations.

The foundations would “provide funds to schools and students ... to improve programs in public school districts, provide scholarships for children to attend other qualified schools, or expand special education services to children with disabilities.”

The proposal also says its language “shall be construed to repeal any previously enacted constitutional provisions to the extent they could be construed as prohibiting or limiting the award of tax credits for taxpayers’ voluntary support or aid of students to attend ... schools other than those defined as free public schools.”

Missouri’s Constitution currently prohibits “an appropriation or pay from any public fund whatever, anything in aid of any religious creed, church or sectarian purpose, or to help to support or sustain any private or public school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever.”

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