Amendment R recognizes technical institutes as constitutionally legitimized postsecondary education entities.
One critic of the constitutional amendment says Amendment R could cost the state money down the road. But proponents disagree.
Republican Representative Elizabeth May was the only legislator to vote against placing Amendment R up for a vote in November.
May says Amendment R is clear in forming a separate governing body for state funded technical institutes.
“I don’t know how anybody can argue that. That’s what it is,” May says. “If you read it, that’s what it is. It’s up to people to decide, do they or do they not want to change the constitution to allow technical schools to have its own governing board. And if they do, they have to be aware that there’s going to be a cost associated with that change.”
May says she has a lot of unanswered questions about Amendment R, including a cost/benefit analysis and bonding authority.
She points to legislation passed during the 2014 and 2015 legislative session that allows separate governing establishment. May says those bills put the technical school cart before the proverbial horse.
But proponents of the amendment say Representative May is off the mark completely. They say the bills she references have nothing to do with establishing a separate governing body.
Greg Von Wald is with the pro-Amendment R camp. He disputes Representative May's interpretation of this Amendment.
“The legislature can determine that governance. But right now they’re already governed, okay? This constitutional amendment doesn’t change that. It puts the authority in the hands of the legislature, instead of having to get into some sort of a tug of war between the regents and tech schools. It says ‘Hey, Regents, you do this, tech schools, you do this, and if there’s any governance issues the legislature will determine it.’ That’s what it is. It does not create another government structure.”
Von Wald says previous legislation passed in regards to tech schools were intended to settle disputes at a local level. He says Amendment R keeps control of technical institutes in the hands of the school districts they’re currently served by.