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School voucher bill fails in Utah House

Rep. Candice Pierucci
Posted at 6:32 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 20:45:13-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The "Hope Scholarship" bill, which offered financial help for people to take their children from public schools to private schools, homeschooling or other educational options, failed in a 22-53 vote on Monday.

The voucher bill, vigorously opposed by the state's largest teachers union, was significantly amended to set an income cap and continue to fund the per-pupil spending. But it was not enough to win over some of Rep. Candice Pierucci's colleagues in the House.

"None of these funding sources will be impacted by this new bill," she said of public education.

Rep. Pierucci, R-Herriman, had been pushing the bill for weeks. It had the support of House leadership. Governor Spencer Cox had threatened to veto it.

Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, sought to replace the voucher with an education tax credit that he argued was more equitable. Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, said he believed the bill took increasingly more amounts of money from the public education system.

"I don't see strong accountability measures here, even minimal accountability measures," Rep. Briscoe said.

The House gallery had both education groups and supporters of the scholarship bill watching the debate and the ultimate vote.

"In an area of our state, education, that is supposed to benefit children — again and again, the conversation is about adults," said Rep. Pierucci.