HB332: Special Needs Scholarship Amendments, sponsored by Rep. Mike Schultz, shifts public money to private schools through a voucher-like scholarship program using income tax credits. It requires the State Board of Education to oversee the program, including the selection of a scholarship granting organization. It creates a nonrefundable corporate or individual income tax credit for certain program donations.
UEA’s Position: OPPOSE
The UEA opposes House Bill 332 for the following reasons:
- HB332 diverts funds away from school districts to private providers with little taxpayer accountability just as SCHOOL VOUCHERS would have done. (Vouchers were resoundingly defeated by voters.)
- There are already challenges funding district and charter schools, there is no need to add a third system. Ninety-five percent of Utah parents choose public schools.
- HB332 creates new work for the State Board of Education without funding. Under provisions of the bill, USBE must:
- Qualify students for the scholarships;
- Qualify schools for the program;
- Conduct background checks on each scholarship-granting organization officer and employee;
- Provide a tax credit certificate form for use by the scholarship granting organizations;
- Conduct the proposal process (RFP) for the scholarship granting organization; and
- Monitor and audit the scholarship granting organization.
- Private schools may deny student admission for any reason and require parents to waive their federal IDEA (special education law) rights.
- HB332 ignores students in rural areas where private schools do not exist.
- HB322 is the wrong way to fund special education. The legislature should fund the public education system for the benefit of ALL students, including those with special needs, rather than shifting funds to private providers.
- Printable version of this Issue Brief
UEA asks Governor to veto voucher-like bill – March 19, 2020
On behalf of the UEA, UEA President Heidi Matthews sent a letter to Utah Gov. Gary Herbert requesting a veto on House Bill 332, “a bill that we believe is poor policy for public education.”
HB332 (3rd sub): Special Needs Scholarship Amendments shifts public money to private schools and providers through a voucher-like scholarship program using income tax credits and with little accountability to taxpayers. The legislation also ignores students in rural areas where private schools do not exist while subsidizing urban and suburban families.
“We opposed the original bill and substitutes,” wrote Matthews in the letter to Gov. Herbert. “Although substitutes improved the substance of the bill, they did not address the fundamental problem of funding private schools and private providers with public dollars. Voters resoundingly defeated vouchers in 2007 and we believe that the bipartisan opposition to HB332 in both the House and the Senate indicate the divisive nature of this program.”
New voucher scheme on the way to the Governor – March 11, 2020
HB332: Special Needs Scholarship Amendments shifts public money to private schools through a voucher-like scholarship program using income tax credits. ‘Scholarship Granting Organizations’ can make tax-deductible donations to provide ‘scholarships’ for students with IEP’s to attend private schools under the program. The UEA opposes this bill (see more about the UEA’s position). The bill passed the Senate Education Committee unanimously and the Senate on a vote of 17-12. It now goes to the Governor to determine if the new bill becomes law.
Private school voucher bill passes the House – March 5, 2020
HB332: Special Needs Scholarship Amendments would create the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program and provide an income tax credit. The UEA strongly opposes this bill because it operates like a voucher, taking money from the education fund and sending it to private schools with little taxpayer accountability. The bill passed the House on a vote of 46-24 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Private school voucher bill passes House committee – February 21, 2020
They're back! HB332: Special Needs Scholarship Amendments would create the Special Needs Opportunity Scholarship Program and provide an income tax credit. The UEA strongly opposes this bill because it operates like a voucher, taking money from the education fund and sending it to private schools with little taxpayer accountability. The bill based the House Revenue and Taxation Committee on a vote of 9-2. It now goes to the full House for consideration.