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Voters in the Nov. 6 election decisively repealed the law, enacted by the legislature earlier this year, which sought to create the nation’s first universal voucher program.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

Events

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.
Sponsor
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
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.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

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 Does School Choice 'Work'?
Ultimately, the “how” of educational choice may matter more than the “what.”
10 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Opinion 'Control Freaks' Are 'Losing Their Grip' on Education
"School choice evangelist" says new laws are a response to unions, bureaucracies, and K-12 ideologues.
12 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Another State Is Launching a Private School Choice Program. Will More Follow?
Alabama is the 12th state to offer a private school choice program that all students in the state will be eligible to access.
5 min read
Image of students working at desks, wearing black and white school uniforms.
iStock/Getty
School Choice & Charters Tracker Which States Have Private School Choice?
Education savings accounts, voucher, and tax-credit scholarships are growing. This tracker keeps tabs on them so you don't have to.