STA, 15 July 2019 - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, vetoed on Monday legislative changes that cut state funding for private primary schools, arguing the cut was in opposition to the Constitutional Court decision ordering that funding be equalised with that for public schools.
The veto could spell trouble for the controversial changes, adopted last week in a 42:36 vote after a tug-of-war over the interpretation and enforcement of a 2014 top court ruling.
For the lower chamber to override veto, the changes would require absolute majority, meaning 46 MPs. The repeat vote is expected to be held on Thursday, but Gregor Perič of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), the coalition party that abstained from voting last week, already confirmed today the SMC would not change its mind and could not support the bill.
He said the SMC was not afraid of its decision having political consequences, arguing the party had played with open cards all along.
The councillors who filed the veto proposal argued the changes mean a cut in funds and run contrary to the December 2014 decision of the Constitutional Court that ordered full state funding for publicly approved curricula.
The opponents of the changes claim the legislator introduced an unfair distinction between publicly approved curricula and those that obtained public certification, the latter applying for private schools.
The changes introduce full state funding for the segment of private schools curricula corresponding with the public curricula, but completely scrap state funding for additional programmes, which continue to be covered for public schools.
Until now, private schools got 85% of the total state funding received by public schools. Opponents of the changes say that the cut also affects programmes that are part of compulsory primary education, which runs against public interest.
Education Minister Jernej Pikalo defended the changes today, arguing they were in line with the Constitutional Court ruling.
He said international documents also clearly stated that while the state should enable parents to raise their children in line with their world view, the state was not obliged to fund this.
A special commission of the National Council met ahead of today's vote to reject the veto proposal 6:1, with its chair Branimir Štrukelj arguing that private education caused segregation.
National Council president Alojz Kovšca disagreed, saying this was a political and ideological issue, while some councillors argued there are regions in Slovenia where parents do not have the option to send their child to a private school at all.
The opposition right-leaning parties rejected the changes last week. While the Left backed the coalition to help pass them, the SMC abstained from voting.
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