School voucher bill fails in Utah House

Feb 28, 2022, 4:15 PM | Updated: 5:45 pm
Rep. Canice Pierucci, R-Herriman, sponsored the the Hope Scholarship bill....
Rep. Candice Pierucci R-Herriman, presents HCR16, which recognizes student athletes’ rights to religious freedom and modesty, in the House chamber at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Spenser Heaps. Deseret News)
(Spenser Heaps. Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Hope Scholarship, also known as the school voucher bill, failed to pass out of the Utah House of Representatives this afternoon.

The vote failed overwhelmingly. The vote tallied in 22 representatives in support, and 53 who did not.

Rep. Candice Pierucci pleaded with her colleagues on the House floor to support it.

“Absolutely you can support a robust public education system and support this bill,” she said, after laying out several changes to the bill.

A substitute version of the bill was an effort to calm the objections of many, that the Hope Scholarship would mean public schools would get less funding, and public money would flow toward private schools. The new version of the bill, Pierruci said, “ensures that the WPU (weighted pupil unit) remains with the LEA (local education agency) even after the student has left.”

She hoped that would garner more support.

“Our public education system will be held harmless and in fact be receiving more funding even after a student has chosen to find an alternative option for education,” she said.

The new version of the bill also added testing requirements for scholarship recipients, so there would be accountability with kids who leave public education, and what they are learning. There was also a cap on how much a family could make to qualify for the scholarship.

“The scholarship is targeted toward helping our low income and middle income families,” she said.

But in the end, there was not enough support, with many republican voting against it.

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School voucher bill fails in Utah House