School Choice & Charters

Political Aftershocks From Voucher Vote Continuing in Utah

By Michele McNeil — December 04, 2007 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Even though Utah’s new voucher law flopped with state voters last month, the fallout is just beginning. Hard feelings over the referendum will likely complicate coming legislative skirmishes about money—and might even affect the makeup of the state board of education.

Voters in the Nov. 6 election decisively repealed the law, enacted by the legislature earlier this year, which sought to create the nation’s first universal voucher program. It would have given families statewide up to $3,000 a year toward private school tuition. (“Utah’s Vote Raises Bar on Choice,” Nov. 14, 2007.)

Left on the table is $9 million in the state’s fiscal 2008 budget that legislators set aside to help implement the program.

Teachers’ unions, which played a big part in the repeal campaign, would like it to go to public schools, but key legislators have told state media outlets that transportation is a big need, too.

See Also

See other stories on education issues in Utah. See data on Utah’s public school system.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. will have a say but hasn’t decided where he thinks the leftover money should go, said Lisa Roskelley, a spokeswoman for the Republican governor. She said his fiscal 2009 budget would be unveiled in the next couple of weeks, and that he would address what to do with the leftover $9 million then.

He also hasn’t decided where he stands on another post-referendum question: whether to expand the 15-member nonpartisan, elected state school board into a 29-member board elected on a partisan basis.

State board member Kim Burningham predicted that legislators might seek changes to the board, or to public school funding, in response to many board members’ opposition to the voucher law.

“We defied them,” Mr. Burningham said in an interview last month. He was the president of the board, but stepped aside as its leader after the voucher election. State Rep. Greg Hughes, a Republican, told The Salt Lake Tribune after the election that legislators have talked about governance changes for years, and that the proposals being mulled were not retribution.

“I’m afraid I’m walking into a session where every time I disagree, someone would look to exploit that for political gain by saying it’s retribution,” he said.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the December 05, 2007 edition of Education Week


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Classroom Strategies for Building Equity and Student Confidence
Shape equity, confidence, and success for your middle school students. Join the discussion and Q&A for proven strategies.
Content provided by Project Lead The Way
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Professional Development Webinar
Disrupting PD Day in Schools with Continuous Professional Learning Experiences
Hear how this NC School District achieved district-wide change by shifting from traditional PD days to year-long professional learning cycles
Content provided by BetterLesson
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Choice & Charters Opinion A Charter Academy Delivering a ‘Classical’ Education Grows in Popularity
At its core, Great Hearts Academy seeks to foster virtuous human beings, explains the schools' CEO.
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters A Proposed Catholic Charter School Is New Test for Religion and Public Education
With a favorable state attorney general's opinion in hand, Catholic officials are set to ask for approval of the first religious charter.
10 min read
Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor speaks during a bill signing ceremony for a bill making it a felony to perform an abortion, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, Tuesday, April 12, 2022, in Oklahoma City.
Then-Oklahoma Attorney General John M. O'Connor, shown last year in Oklahoma City, issued an advisory opinion last December that bolstered the prospects of charter schools sponsored by religious institutions.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
School Choice & Charters Opinion How Are Charter Schools Faring in Our Polarized Political Era?
There are several distinct and passionate school communities that reside under the charter school banner. Can they work alongside another?
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters What to Know About a Neo-Nazi Home-School Scandal
Three things to know about how the incident connects to broader public education debates.
6 min read
Tight crop of hands typing on a laptop overlaid with a window that includes a video play button and red progress bar.
iStock/Getty Images Plus