Constitutional Provisions

Blaine Amendment

“The State shall provide for the establishment, support and control of a statewide system of public schools free from sectarian control … nor shall public funds be appropriated for the support or benefit of any sectarian or nonsectarian private educational institution, except that proceeds of special purpose revenue bonds authorized or issued under section 12 of Article VII may be appropriated to finance or assist: 1. Not-for-profit corporations that provide early childhood education and care facilities serving the general public; and 2. Not-for-profit private nonsectarian and sectarian elementary schools, secondary schools, colleges and universities.” Hawaii Const. Art. X, § 1.

Vouchers: No

Tax Credits: Yes

Existing Private School Choice Programs


Relevant Case Law

Spears v. Honda, 449 P.2d 130 (Haw. 1969)

The Hawaii Supreme Court held that a statute authorizing the transportation of private school students at public expense violated the state’s Blaine Amendment.

Opinion Attorney General Hawaii No. 03-01 (2003) (copy available from the Institute for Justice)

Hawaii’s attorney general concluded that a publicly funded Hawaii school voucher program would violate Hawaii’s Blaine Amendment, given the Hawaii Supreme Court’s broad interpretation of that provision.

Analysis and Recommendations

A tax credit program is the best school choice option for Hawaii given the history and restrictive interpretation of the state’s Blaine Amendment.

Model Legislation: Education Savings Account, Great Schools Tax Credit Program, Family Education Tax Credit Program

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