Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Vouchers -- Jeremy's Arguments

I have appreciated that Jeremy has stuck with the voucher debate here. In my last voucher post Jeremy commented and eloquantly laid out a notable and powerful argument against vouchers. The argument isn't one that I can truly refute. Although I disagree with him (depending on his definition of "wealthy types") on who will be the majority beneficiaries of vouchers and his assumption that vouchers for wealthy students will grow much beyond levels currently prescribed; I cannot refute his concerns about what happens if the plan flops.

"I'd love to be able to buy the idea you guys have proposed that there is a possibility that the voucher program could be made to disappear if it is a flop. The problem is that I can't think of another example of an entitlement program that was easily revoked after government started handing the money out...even when the vast majority of beneficiaries were wealthy types who didn't need the entitlement in the first place.

This plan is a great example of a possible perfect storm of government waste that can't be undone. If things go poorly and only 2-3% of public school students use the vouchers do you really think Republicans will agree the experiment they've invested so much political capital in is a failure? They'll let it go another 10 years. By then all the rich kids who never would have been in public schools in the first place will be receiving vouchers (and they likely won't be the small $500 subsidies the program currently hands out to wealthy people...some legislators are already apologizing for how small those vouchers are). Will the Republican legislature be able to count on many of its rich donors to go along with revoking the state entitlement that helps pay for their kids private schools?"


Jeremy said...

Thanks for the shout out :-)

You should know that I am not against vouchers on principle. I think they are a great idea in areas where the schools are failing. I actually think tuition tax credits are an even better idea if parents really want true choice in how their education dollars are spent. They provide more freedom and flexibility and there isn't the same chance a tuition tax credit program would be ruled unconstitutional that we will run into if the voucher program is approved by voters in November.

Utah Taxpayer said...

A tuition tax credit would have to be refundable otherwise lower income households would not benefit from it since they do not pay enough state income tax to receive a large enough tax credit.

A refundable tax credit really isn't much different than a voucher.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that pro-voucher people are sincere in their attempts to promote viable choice to low and moderately low income families.

Is the current proposal the best option? Probably not, but it is a start.

Is this some conspiracy to merely give breaks to the rich while fooling the people that this will help the poor? I doubt it, but it makes for great rhetoric for voucher opponents.

Jeremy said...


I'm curious why you think the intentions of those pushing this mistake on us matter.

As anyone who has studied public policy with a skeptical eye should know, good intentions never guarantee good results from government programs.