I'm close to throwing in the towel on referendum one due to the abysmal way PCE has conducted the campaign to support vouchers. I can only do so much and reach so many people on my humble little blog. Now I do plan on completing the spreadsheet I have mentioned previously, and I do continue to write in support of Utah's voucher bill. However, Utahn's for Public Schools have ran a very visible, well-planned, efficient, and (judging from the visibility and efficiency) well-funded campaign, while Parent's for Choice has conducted a inefficient, visibility-lacking, possibly poorly-financed, and definitely poorly-managed campaign. I feel rather hopeless for the chances of Referendum 1's passage.
Given the relative hopelessness of the current situation, I thought I would convey a little advice should the Legislature decide to pass a repackaged voucher-type bill in the distant (or not so distant) future. The HB148-174 voucher bill had always faced one major challenge even if the referendum never came to the ballot and/or the referendum passed on Election Day -- separation between church and state. Arizona has a voucher plan that uses tax credits. Many voucher opponents feel this law was passed under false pretenses, although I don't know how anyone couldn't understand the law's intent given that the tax credit was issued only to private school students because they go to private schools. I digress. Given that the funds from the refundable credit are given first to the taxpaying parent, then to a School Tuition Organization (STO) than the STO awards the scholarship to the student at the private or religious institution of the student's choice. The tax credit was deemed constitutional during its only court challenge (Kotterman v. Killian -- Arizona Supreme Court). It appears that the main factor that made Arizona's tax credit survive judicial scrutiny it the buffer of the STO between the State of Arizona the taxpayer and the religious tuition-receiving educational institutions.
Utah's current voucher plan did not have any such buffer, and I would guess has (possibly had) a strong chance of being deemed unconstitutional.
However, tax credits are like blood in a shark tank to tax fraudsters, and such a plan would carry a heavier added cost of policing the plan to make sure abuse is limited. However, I believe a tax credit would have been a better engine for vouchers to overcome the hurdle of separation between church and state.