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Wyoming

Constitutional Provisions

Blaine Amendments

“No money of the state shall ever be given or appropriated to any sectarian or religious society or institution.” Wyoming Const. Art. 1, § 19.

“No appropriation shall be made for charitable, industrial, educational or benevolent purposes to any person, corporation or community not under the absolute control of the state, nor to any denominational or sectarian institution or association.” Wyoming Const. Art. 3, § 36.

Education Article

“[N]or shall any portion of any public school fund ever be used to support or assist any private school, or any school, academy, seminary, college or other institution of learning controlled by any church or sectarian organization or religious denomination whatsoever.” Wyoming Const. Art. 7, § 8.

Vouchers: No

Tax Credits: Yes


Existing Private School Choice Programs

None

Relevant Case Law

State ex rel. McPherren v. Carter, 215 P. 477 (Wyo. 1923)

The Wyoming Supreme Court held that a supplemental award of public funds to the widow of a sheriff killed in the line of duty does not violate Article 3, Section 36 as an unconstitutional gift to a private person. It is the functional equivalent of a “payment for service rendered” rather than an outright gift.

1982 Wyo. AG LEXIS 21 (Wyo. AG 1982)

The Wyoming attorney general concluded that holding public school baccalaureate services inside a church where religious activities including prayer and singing of hymns may occur would violate neither the First Amendment nor the Wyoming Constitution.

Analysis and Recommendations

A tax-credit-generated scholarship program is Wyoming’s best choice for school choice of some form, even though Wyoming does not have a state income tax. Its constitution contains two Blaine Amendments, neither of which has received much judicial attention, but Article 3, Section 36 appears to explicitly forbid appropriating money to individuals for educational purposes.

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

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