Education

Utah’s Republican Governor Vows To Veto School Voucher Bill After Taking $75,000 From Nation’s Largest Teachers Union

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Chrissy Clark Education Reporter
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Utah’s Republican Gov. Spencer Cox vowed to veto a school choice bill on Thursday as school choice advocates point out that the Governor accepted $75,000 in campaign funds from the nation’s largest teachers union.

Cox said during his monthly news conference that he would veto House Bill 331, which would create an educational voucher program that establishes “scholarship accounts on behalf of eligible students to pay for private education goods and services” for the 2023-2024 school year, according to a local news outlet.

“Yeah. Yeah, I would,” Cox said on vetoing the bill. “At some point, I will be absolutely willing to support vouchers, but that point is not now because we are underfunding our schools.”

Cox’s office directed the Daily Caller to his radio show for further comments on his decision to veto the bill. The Governor said that he will support funding a voucher program when the starting salaries for teachers hits $60,000.

School choice advocates pointed out that the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), donated $75,000 to Cox’s 2020 campaign. The Utah Education Association (UEA), an affiliate of the NEA, also endorsed the Republican Governor.

The UEA is vehemently opposed to House Bill 331, according to its website. The union’s Government Relations Director said that the bill requires “exactly zero reporting about student learning outcomes” and condemned the program for allegedly paying “twice as much state funding to students attending a private school.”

Funding for government-run public schools goes up under House Bill 331.

“Educators have been crystal clear that what they need most are time, resources, and respect and HB 331 delivers absolutely none of these things. None,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews.

Corey DeAngelis, the Director of Research at the American Federation for Children, told the Daily Caller that he believes opposition to school choice bills and parental wishes is “becoming political suicide.” (RELATED: Voters Recall Several Members Of School Board In San Francisco By Massive Margins)

“Opposing parental rights in education is becoming political suicide after the past two years. Governor Cox should read the room,” DeAngelis said. “Teachers unions were essentially the only special interest in K-12 education for far too long. But now there’s a new special interest group in town — parents who want more of a say in their children’s education — and they aren’t going away any time soon.”

DeAngelis pointed to a study that found 77 percent of Utah school parents support educational savings programs, and 69 percent of all Utah adults support school voucher programs. The school choice advocate encouraged the Utah legislature to override Cox’s veto power if the bill passes the legislature and is ultimately vetoed.

“Governor Cox should listen to parents instead of the teachers union,” DeAngelis said. “If Governor Cox throws parents under the bus, then the Republican Utah legislature should override his veto and empower families.”