Thursday, February 1, 2007

No on HB 148, No to Vouchers: Unrealistic Finances

The Bill specifically appropriates $100,000 in ongoing funds to the State School Board to administer the program. This amount seems unrealistic in the light that such a staff member to administer the program would cost more than that amount to pay, equip, and benefit. According the Utah State Office of Education’s FY 2008 Issue Brief - PED - USOE Staffing Statewide Programs and Functions (http://www.le.state.ut.us/interim/2007/pdf/00000369.pdf), the Legislative Fiscal Analyst recommended $112,000 for the Carson Smith Tuition Tax Credit Program, with just 26 eligible schools, just 137 receiving a scholarship in 2005-06 (http://www.rules.utah.gov/publicat/bulletin/2006/20060601/28736.htm), and one staff member to oversee the whole program. If all 81 private schools currently in operation in Utah applied, and all 13,836 students applied for vouchers, $100,000 seems like an unrealistic amount to fund such an operation. In addition to the lack of student achievement accountability noted above, this creates a dangerous precedent.

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