Pence to speak in Michigan supporting school voucher program

LANSING, Mich. — Former Vice President Mike Pence will return to Michigan on Tuesday in hopes of boosting a petition effort to establish tax credits and a scholarship program that could help students attend private schools.

The Let MI Kids Learn campaign, which has been backed by former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, announced the upcoming Pence visit. He will speak to students at Lutheran Northwest High School in Rochester Hills, participate in a roundtable discussion and meet with petition circulators, according to a press release.

“As both governor of Indiana and vice president of the United States, Pence was a champion for quality education and enhanced choice for parents,” the press release said.

Pence also will participate in a fundraiser in Oakland County to benefit U.S. House candidate Tom Barrett, a Republican state senator from Charlotte who’s challenging U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly. Their race is expected to be a competitive contest with national implications.

Pence frequently visited Michigan while serving as former President Donald Trump’s running mate in 2016 and 2020. His most recent campaign stops in Michigan came on the eve of the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election.

But the former vice president has faced criticism from Trump and some of his supporters for not blocking the ratification of the 2020 results as he presided over a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump attempted to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden with unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud and said in the days before Jan. 6 that he hoped Pence “comes through for us.”

At the time, Pence said he had studied the matter and that “my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”

Pence, a former talk radio host who’s known for his conservative stances on social issues, has stayed involved in politics amid rumors he could run for president himself in 2024.

The Let MI Kids Learn campaign is focused on a series of two petitions that would change Michigan tax law to allow donors to get tax credits on money given to a scholarship fund that could then be used for educational expenses, including summer school and tutoring but also tuition or fees at nonpublic schools.

The proposal would allow donors to contribute money through the Student Opportunity Scholarship program, which would be capped at $500 million in contributions each year.

Critics have blasted the proposal, calling it a “voucher scheme” that would divert dollars to private schools.

DeVos, a prominent figure in GOP politics and influential campaign donor, has described the plan as “a chance for parents to take control of education in Michigan, in our state.”

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis participated in a tele-town hall for Let MI Kids Learn in April.

A petition campaign needs to gather 340,047 valid signatures to send a proposal to the GOP-led Legislature for adoption. The approach would avoid a veto from Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.