As I write this, the United States Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue case.
The national press has covered this extensively and there have been several Montana blog posts as well as print media. We will not be able to hear the audio of the hearing until it is posted by the Supreme Court at the end of the week.
Supporters of Espinoza tout this as religious freedom but in reality, it is nothing more than the path through which they can funnel scarce public funds into private education. Our public schools, particularly our rural schools, cannot afford to lose yet more resources to bolster schools that discriminate and are unaccountable and unaccredited.
The 1972 Montana Constitution is clear that public funds may not be given to religious organizations and the writers of that document have now written again to underscore their intentions and fight back against this attempt to divert our public resources.
Our Montana Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional.
But there is a great deal of money to be made off of private education and those with already deep pockets are pouring even more money into this fight so that they can get richer and take more from our public coffers.
Espinoza v the Montana Department of Revenue has far-reaching and universally disastrous implications. It means that someone like Greg Gianforte could ultimately give $50,000 to his private, discriminatory Petra Academy taking that $50,000 out of the tax pool that pays for our roads, our water and yes, our public schools.
We won’t know the outcome of this hearing until June. But today and tomorrow, I urge everyone to do all that the can to support our strong public school systems and fight back against those who would diminish and demean our public schools, students and teachers.
Representative Moffie Funk