State Auditor Andrew Sorrell said he’s excited about the chances of school choice reform passing next year because of recent comments by Gov. Kay Ivey on the issue.
“My goal is for Alabama to be the most school choice friendly state in the nation. I want us to have lots of school choices for our parents to choose from,” Ivey said last month on Alabama Public Television. “And we’re going to be working, now already, on a bill, an ESA bill – an education savings account bill, – to present to the Legislature next session, and I’m very optimistic that will pass.”
Sorrell, who also supported school choice while he was in the Legislature, discussed the issue on WVNN’s “The Yaffee Program.”
“I think we’re going to have school choice long before 2026,” Sorrell said. “Because Governor Ivey went on ‘Capitol Journal’ a couple of weeks ago and said not only are we going to pass school choice, we’re going to pass the strongest school choice bill in the nation.
“And you know what? I’m choosing to believe her. I think she’s right.”
Sorrell believes that a strong bill on the issue has a much better chance of passing with the support of the governor’s office.
“They’re already working on legislation,” he said. “If you get the governor behind a major piece of legislation like that, she’s going to be out talking about it, I think it’s going to go through.”
Sorrell said Ivey is responding to the momentum of support around the country and the Yellowhammer State for more options in schooling.
“When you look at the other school choice states and you see how they’re ranked hire in education than we are an how much they’ve moved up in the rankings, then it’s kind of common sense,” he said. “And think there’s been a groundswell of support building for school choice.”
While the PRICE (Parental Rights in Children’s Education) Act didn’t make it to a final vote in the 2023 legislative session, Sorrell believes the fact it got as far as it did is a good sign for the future. The bill would allow parents to get $6,000 in state tax dollars to put into an education savings account.
“[I]t eventually came out of committee,” he said. “I told Representative (Ernie) Yarbrough ‘it took me three years to get Constitutional Carry out of committee and you all got school choice out of committee in one year.’ So I actually thought we made great progress.
“So Kay Ivey is seeing a big opportunity here … I think Governor Ivey can focus on what she wants to be the main thrust of her next legislative session and I think she’s making it very clear that’s going to be school choice.”