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Michigan Supreme Court hears “parochiaid” case

Courtesy Michigan Supreme Court

The state Supreme Court heard arguments today (TUE) on a challenge to Michigan’s ban on taxpayer funds to support private and parochial schools.

The fight is over 2.5 million dollars Republicans tucked into the 2016 state budget.

The money was earmarked to reimburse non-public schools for the costs of complying with health and safety mandates. It also set the stage for a legal fight over a 1970, voter-approved amendment. It says taxpayer funds cannot support non-public schools – including religious schools.

Attorney John Bursch said that’s the real target of the ban.

“It’s the intent, and clearly the intent was to discriminate against religious schools specifically,” says Bursch.

Assistant state attorney general Eric Restuccia said it’s not the court’s job to divine voters’ intentions.

“It’s not like Michigan Constitution’s tried to identify just the private schools or even a denomination within – all non-public schools,” Restuccia says.

The decision in this case will decide the boundaries of future budget fights over state money for non-public schools.