Thursday, March 15, 2007

KSL's Referendum Opinion is Wrong


A lot of powerful interests want to overturn Utah's new school voucher law through a voter referendum. KSL views the effort as a waste of time, energy and means.

As a long-time supporter of public education, KSL has never championed the idea of using precious tax dollars to subsidize private schools. And we're not convinced the new voucher law will lead ultimately to significant improvements in education in Utah, as proponents adamantly claim.

Still, the voucher law passed only after many years of intense public debate and strategic compromises. Proponents won the legislative battle fair and square. Now the proof of their optimistic claims "is in the pudding."

With passage of the law came a number of safeguards, including a late-session amendment to fully audit the program after five-years. If the voucher program isn't working as touted - if public money is being squandered - the public will know it and lawmakers will be held accountable.

Besides, the history of referendums in Utah is bleak. Utahns, it seems, are reluctant to legislate from the ballot box. And polls suggest support for overturning the voucher law, though significant, is not overwhelming.

There's no need to put the community through such a divisive and futile battle.

The battle was not won fair and square. It was purchased fair and square, and largely by out of state groups.

The Citizens of Utah are upset that the legislature has ignored them on this issue.

From a KSL story:

The new Dan Jones poll of 418 Utahns asked: "Do you favor or oppose the voucher system adopted by the governor and the majority of lawmakers?"
39% favor it, while 56% oppose it.

Our poll asked: "Would you sign a petition to allow voters to decide whether or not to adopt school vouchers?"
80% say yes and only 18% say no.

A higher percentage of people want the referendum than voted for George W Bush in Utah in 2004.

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