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    Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1605. This bill would divert state funds from our public school systems and redirect those funds to "Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts" to pay for educational services outside the public school system. The bill is similar in purpose to HB 389 (2016), which I vetoed. Nothing in HB 1605 addresses the earlier measure's fundamental infirmities.


    First and foremost, this legislation raises significant constitutional concerns. Tuition at private sectarian institutions would be an approved expense. This places the legislation in direct conflict with Article VIII, Section 10, of the Virginia Constitution, which authorizes the use of public funds only for public and nonsectarian private schools.


    In requiring local school divisions to transfer the bulk of a qualified student's state SOQ funding to an outside "Education Savings Account," the bill would deprive those schools of critically-needed resources.


    Additionally, the funds that would be withdrawn from the public system bear no relationship to the cost of the private education to be provided. Since the bill requires only state funding to be transferred, the amount received by eligible families would vary widely, depending on which locality a student is from.


    Finally, it should be noted that the bill lacks accountability standards for participating schools. There thus is no assurance that these state funds will be used to provide students high quality education.


    House Bill 1605 raises constitutional concerns, diverts funds from public schools, and creates an inequitable system across different school divisions. It fails to support the goal of using state resources to strengthen and improve public education throughout the Commonwealth.


    Accordingly, I veto this bill.