NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Elections Brightened Voucher Prospects in States

November 11, 2002

Republican gains in last week's elections have boosted the outlook for school vouchers that would permit parents to use public money to send their children to private schools, rather than automatically consigning them to failing public schools.

Here are some of the states where the outlook for vouchers has brightened.

  • A shift in control of the Texas House of Representatives to the Republicans should put vouchers on the fast track there, since the GOP already controls the state Senate and governorship.
  • Colorado Republicans already control the governor's mansion and the state House of Representatives and -- having gained control of the Senate last week -- are in a position to introduce and push five voucher proposals next year.
  • Republicans have gained control over the entire state government in South Carolina, where newly-elected Gov. Mark Sanford (R) made a voucher-like program called "Academic Passports" a major part of his election campaign.
  • School-choice advocates say election results in other states also present strategic opportunities to expand voucher initiatives and protect existing programs in Cleveland, Milwaukee and the state of Florida.

Voucher supporters still face some hurdles, observers say. Many states are dealing with huge revenue shortfalls, making the immediate launch of any new programs more financially troublesome. Also, most state constitutions still contain language barring the use of public funds to support religious institutions such as schools.

Source: Robert Tomsho, "GOP's Election Gains Give School Vouchers a Second Wind," Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2002.

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