Pence-Ritz education clash expected to hit Indy legislature
- Indiana is bracing for an education power battle in the state's legislature in 2015.
- In addition to legislators having issues like school funding and tax changes on its agenda, Kevin Brinegar, president of the state's Chamber of Commerce, wants to see schools superintendent become a position appointed by the governor or to see the chair of the State Board of Education elected by its governor-appointed members.
- The battle is set to be the latest chapter in the ongoing clash between Republican Gov. Mike Pence and Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz.
Four legislative leaders were on hand for an annual legislative preview at the state's Chamber of Commerce: House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), Senate President David Long (R-Fort Wayne), Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson), and House Minority Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City). None were too pleased with Brinegar's notion that Pence should have the purview to strip Ritz, who was elected to the office by Indiana citizens, of power and appoint a replacement. As the South Bend Tribune reported, Bosma noted that it would "look terrible" for Republicans to remove the only Democrat in a state office from power, despite both parties having supported giving the governor's office that power in the past. He also rejected the idea that the governor should set education policy.
Still, the legislators have threatened taking "action nobody will like" if the squabbling continues.
In June, and on through August, the squabbling threatened Indiana's waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law. And in 2013, Pence created a secondary education department, to which he has attempted to transfer various powers away from Ritz. Putting an end to this power struggle as soon as possible would be to the benefit of Indiana students, but it should be done in a way that doesn't sidestep what the state's citizens wanted when they voted Ritz into office.
- South Bend Tribune Power battle looms in Indiana legislature
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