EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Utah House Education Committee gives thumbs up to school voucher bill

Jan 19, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: 8:07 pm

student-athletes Rep. Candice Pierucci's 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. (Photo credit: Spenser Heaps. Deseret News)

(Photo credit: Spenser Heaps. Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — A school voucher bill is heading to the full Utah State House for consideration.

HB 215 was debated for over three hours in the House Education Committee Thursday. 

The bill does two things. First, it gives teachers a $6,000 bonus

But the second part is what is more controversial, especially because it deals with the teacher bonus.

It would create a scholarship program called “Utah Fits All” for families to apply to.

Bill sponsor Rep. Candice B. Pierucci (R-49) told the committee parents could receive $8,000 to use for private school, charter school or even home school supplies.

“These student applications will be prioritized first off of need, targeting low-income and middle-class families,” Pierucci said. “To truly make sure choice is an option for our families who historically haven’t had those alternatives in education.” 

When asked about why the teacher bonus was included in this bill, Pierucci said the bill was an education funding bill. She also said she wants to show that they are still prioritizing public education. 

But lines of people made public comments Thursday. Not all were convinced by Pierucci’s reasoning. 

“I, in my wildest dreams, would never have imagined to be sitting here speaking against a bill for teacher raises,” said Amy Warren during the committee meeting. “This bill is unfair to our teachers by attaching it to vouchers. You are saying you are not worth the raise without giving us vouchers. So I ask you to vote no on this bill.”

Rep. Angela Romero brought up the possibility of splitting teacher pay from the scholarship program. 

But Pierucci’s bill was passed by a 12-4 vote to the full house.

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Utah House Education Committee gives thumbs up to school voucher bill