Rep. Ken Bragg, sponsor of the bill to more than double private school vouchers in Arkansas, told the Democrat-Gazette after the 44-52 defeat of the bill yesterday that he wouldn’t bring it up again.
Walton-backed forces are circulating messages about applying pressure on 12 legislators to get behind another vote this afternoon.
House convenes at 1 p.m. UPDATE: Nothing today. They apparently couldn’t muster the necessary votes. The House adjourned until next weekend. I’d guess 12 legislators will be handling some phone calls.
Laurie Lee works and has worked for a variety of so-called “reform” groups that work with Walton and similar financial support for their charter/voucher/anti-union school agenda.
Her Facebook page includes the following.
This text is also going around. I presume it has been shared with the 12.
The political threat yesterday in a Lee text message was explicit.
PS: A refresher course in the conflict of interest area from the AEA on Laurie Lee and Walton tentacles and her profit from school vouchers:
Another notable consulting firm the non-profit Arkansas for Education Reform has hired is Trace Strategies. Trace Strategies, owned and operated by lobbyist Laurie Lee, received $205,756 dollars from Arkansans for Education Reform in 2016, according to the organization’s tax documents.
Lee is also the registered principal officer and Chairman of the Board of The Reform Alliance. The Reform Alliance is a registered non-profit which manages Arkansas’s voucher program, the “Succeed Scholarship.”
In 2017, WFF gave the Reform Alliance a nearly $1.5 million grant. The Reform Alliance then paid Lee’s company Trace Strategies $180,000 for “Campaign Advisory” services. It should be noted that Lee’s daughter also works at The Reform Alliance, and the nonprofit’s principal address is listed as Lee’s home on the Arkansas Secretary of State’s website.
The organization also receives a percentage of the taxpayer dollars it manages for administration. The Reform Alliance also lobbies for pro privatization legislation, and the “Succeed Scholarship.” This voucher program has been expanded every year since it was first created. In the 2019 Legislative Session, the funding was doubled to $3 million dollars, despite lawmakers acknowledging there is no way to determine if the students participating in the program are receiving a quality education. Lawmakers also passed a bill to study the program, but elected to increase in the amount of public tax dollars that can be spent on the program by $1.5 million before the study could begin. The Governor has since approved $1.8 million in funding for the program, and is expected to fully fund the $3 million appropriation. To be clear, this means the state is handing millions of your tax dollars to a nonprofit with no transparency and which hired its own chairperson as a contractor.