House Republican: legislators being threatened to vote “yes” on LEARNS bill or they will lose district funding

Early this morning on the Capitol steps, Republican Jim Wooten of Beebe told a crowd of educators that he would vote “no” on The LEARNS Act. “I’m voting no because wrong is wrong and right is right,” he said.

According to Wooten, threats have been made to certain House lawmakers regarding their position on the bill. Wooten told this morning’s group that he’s heard from members that funding would be withheld from Representatives’ districts if they vote “no” on The LEARNS Act. This is not the first LEARNS-related threat that has been reported.

During this morning’s House Education Committee, several Republican representatives seemed wary of specific LEARNS policies. But so far, no Republican committee member has stated they are a “no” vote.

Rep. John Carr (R-Rogers) told a constituent that twenty House members will vote “no” on LEARNS, indicating that at least two Republicans (Wooten being one) will vote against the Governor’s signature education plan.

As the 94th General Assembly plows ahead, there are concerns that under the Sanders administration, representatives must toe the party line. Arm-twisting by the administration is meant to silence the public and bully legislators. To some extent, the coercion is working.

Wooten also communicated with teachers attending the House Ed Committee that a poll was conducted among House members to determine how they will vote on LEARNS. We do not know if the poll was issued before or after threats to withhold state funding as political punishment for a “no” vote.

Wooten is one of several Republican House members who have vehemently opposed voucher expansion, which is a central component of the omnibus LEARNS bill.

A House floor vote on the bill is expected tomorrow — Wednesday, March 1st.