Another battle over school vouchers? One lawmaker plans to propose voucher bill he calls ‘different’ than other attempts

Feb 2, 2022, 8:15 PM | Updated: Feb 15, 2022, 11:14 am
utah state capitol first responders mental health...
(File photo: The reflecting pool at the Utah State Capitol. Photo: Paul Nelson)
(File photo: The reflecting pool at the Utah State Capitol. Photo: Paul Nelson)

SALT LAKE CITY — Could we see another political battle over school vouchers?  One lawmaker says he intends to bring the voucher discussion to Capitol Hill, but he believes the idea won’t be as controversial as it was last time.

School vouchers

Back in 2007, then-governor Jon Huntsman Jr. called for a special election on a school voucher referendum. That led to months of political ads both for and against the vouchers.  The Deseret News reports that voucher program would have let families get between $500 and $3,000 to pay for tuition at private schools.  Eventually, the voters shot the initiative down.

However, District 9 Senator Kirk Cullimore believes things could be different, this year.  He says he’s still drafting a bill that could get a lot more support during the 2022 legislative session.

“I think a number of factors have changed things over the past couple of years,” Cullimore says.  “I think the way this bill is being drawn up is a little bit different than some school choice bills in the past.”

Taking money from public schools

One of the biggest criticisms about vouchers 15 years ago was that it would take money from public schools. It would then be sent to private institutions.  However, Cullimore says the passage of Amendment G in 2020 made it possible for income tax revenue to be used for things other than public education.  He says his bill would not take money from the state’s education fund, therefore, public schools wouldn’t get less money.

Cullimore believes families would be more comfortable with vouchers as long as the education fund isn’t impacted. And he says a recent Dan Jones and Associates poll proves that.

“It seems like the public opinion on this has shifted [with] 69 percent of people support an option like this,” Cullimore said.

If the bill were to pass, lower-income families would be eligible for more funding per child than higher-income families.  He says 25 percent of the fund would be reserved for families in the lowest income threshold.

“The program that we’re trying to establish will have an emphasis on lower-income families to help them potentially explore other options that have probably been outside of their means or their availability,” he said.

In 2007, groups like the NAACP and the Utah Education Association opposed the voucher initiative. They said public money shouldn’t go to private schools.  Cullimore says he’s working with the UEA to ensure public schools aren’t accidentally impacted.

He said, “We’re taking their feedback and we’re trying to continue to work on this bill based on that feedback, which is why it hasn’t been released, yet.”

Read more:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team. here.

Today’s Top Stories


Gov. Spencer Cox announced Utah Court of Appeals Judge Jill M. Pohlman is his nominee to serve on t...
Mark Jones

Tax cuts, teacher salary raise among budget recommendations by Cox

On Thursday, Gov. Cox announced significant tax cuts and a salary increase for all teachers are included in his recommendations for the fiscal year 2024 budget.
1 day ago
West Jordan Elementary is closing its gate for the last time at the end of the school year, due to ...
Hugo Rikard-Bell

West Jordan Elementary School is closing its gates after 40 years

West Jordan Elementary is closing its gate for the last time at the end of the school year, due to safety issues within the infrastructure.
1 day ago
A woman wishing not to be identified shows her sadness after the Rescue Mission of Salt Lake ran ou...
Waverly Golden

Expert joins Inside Sources on women accessing homeless resources

Emily Darowski, Associate Director for the Utah Women and Leadership Project, discusses a recent study the project conducted on women accessing homeless resources in Utah.
2 days ago
Student loan forgiveness on hold...
Samantha Herrera

Student loan forgiveness resolution on hold until 2023

Jason Iuliano, associate professor of law for the University of Utah spoke to Dave and Dujanovic about the student loan forgiveness block.
3 days ago
kindergarten gap year...
Tom Haraldsen

Checking in on the status of full-day kindergarten in Utah

Policy analyst with Voices for Utah Children reveals whether full-day kindergarten could be in the cards for next year.
4 days ago
video game...
Elizabeth Weiler

BYU students win international award for video game

SALT LAKE CITY — Students apart of the animation program at BYU received international recognition from the Rookie Awards for developing and producing a video game. Additionally, the “Highly Commended” also helped BYU earn the global ranking of fifth top video game design school.  The interactive computer game in question is titled Liminus: The Silent Guard, it […]
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Another battle over school vouchers? One lawmaker plans to propose voucher bill he calls ‘different’ than other attempts