Both tax credits and voucher programs are school choice options for Utah. They are completely consistent with the Utah Constitution and relevant Utah state court decisions.
In its most thorough analysis of the more general of the Utah Constitution’s Blaine Amendments (Article I, Section 4) to date, the Utah Supreme Court held in Society of Separationists, Inc. v. Whitehead that if public “money or property are provided on a nondiscriminatory basis” and they are “equally accessible to all,” the government program at issue complies with the Utah Constitution. A voucher program in which students use publicly funded scholarships to attend private, religious or public schools of their choice undoubtedly satisfies those requirements.
Legislators should stress that the purpose of the voucher program is to expand educational opportunities on a non-discriminatory basis and that the public funds used for vouchers are not for the benefit of the schools children decide to attend, but for the children themselves. In addition, if funds derived from the income tax are used, the Legislature should be sure to state that publicly financed scholarship programs are a part of the public education system under the education article (Article X, Section 2).
Model Legislation: Education Savings Account, Parental Choice Scholarship Program (Universal Eligibility), Parental Choice Scholarship Program (Means-Tested Eligibility), Special Needs Scholarship Program, Foster Child Scholarship Program, Autism Scholarship, Great Schools Tax Credit Program, Family Education Tax Credit Program
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