Representative Says Ten Commandments Bill A Ruse To Get School Vouchers Approved

Friday, April 22nd 2016, 4:54 pm

The legislature passed a bill that would allow voters to decide whether to remove a provision to the state constitution to allow the Ten Commandments monument to be returned to the Capitol. 

But Rep. David Perryman, D-District 56, said that would open the door for school vouchers.

“That’s the same constitutional provision that prohibits vouchers and ESA’s, Education Savings Accounts. It prevents public money from being used in private or religious schools,” Perryman said. “And so when you take the constitutional provision out, as SJR 72 does, then what it does is open up the use of public money for vouchers.”

Perryman says repealing that provision of the constitution was never about returning the Ten Commandments monument to the Capitol. He says it’s about lawmakers looking for a backdoor way to allow school vouchers. 

Perryman proposed an amendment to the bill that would allow the Ten Commandments to return to the Capitol, but would prevent the use of public funds for school vouchers, but pulled the amendment when it was clear it didn’t have enough votes to pass. 

“What my amendment to the bill does is it addresses both of these. It keeps the Ten Commandments on the State Capitol grounds, because that’s what the majority of people in Oklahoma want. But it also protects the public funds from vouchers for being used for private or religious schools.”

Authors of the bill in the House and Senate say the intent of the bill is to have the monument returned to the Capitol and has nothing to do with school vouchers.

The measure will be on the November ballot.