Utah Gov. Gary Herbert recently signed into law a new school choice program after vetoing an earlier version of the bill. Heritage Foundation policy expert Jonathan Butcher and conservative allies played a role in helping the proposal move forward.
The program, a state tax credit scholarship for children with special needs, enables students to attend a private school of choice. It also has many features of an Education Savings Account. Heritage has supported Education Savings Accounts tirelessly for almost a decade.
After the first version of the bill was vetoed, Butcher, a senior policy analyst for Heritage's Center for Education Policy, wrote that during a crisis students need more education options and that Utah just missed its chance to provide them.
“With lean times ahead for school districts, finding cost-effective ways to help children with special needs—who often need intense assistance—will be critical,” wrote Butcher.
Butcher also wrote reports, including a chapter in a small book published by the Utah-based Sutherland Institute, appeared in media interviews, and even spoke on the policy solution before the Utah Legislature Conservative Caucus.
“Families can also use the funds to pay for educational therapies, online learning options, and other education-related expenses. So this is a new tax credit scholarship program with ESA-like features,” said Lindsey Burke, director of Heritage’s Center for Education Policy.
“There is good policy news happening during the coronavirus. As usual, you have to look to the states,” said Burke.