The Message of Referendum 1

by Senator Mike Dmitrich
Senate Minority Leader

Sen. Dmitrich at News ConferenceFor the past few days since last Tuesday’s election, I have reflected on the results of Referendum 1 and the voluminous follow-up commentary.
Even though 62 percent of voters in Utah rejected school vouchers, 38 percent of Utah voters were in favor of school vouchers, believing they offered a win-win option for parental choice and public school funding. The message of the voucher vote is clear. The high voter turnout, coupled with both the YES votes and the NO votes, indicates that Utah’s citizens are cognizant of the challenges facing public education and want something done about it.

Although I do not support using public funds to subsidize private schools, I do support using public funds to meet every child’s needs through our public education system, which is the option chosen by the overwhelming majority of Utah’s students. I believe the Utah Legislature should listen to the public and, together with teachers, parents, students, and taxpayers, fortify our public education system so it will appropriately meet the needs of all students. In my opinion, the preferred outcome of the voucher election is a superior public school system, and I hope the players in education will take advantage of this opportunity to secure the lifeline of our public schools.

At the end of the day, parents still have the choice of two education systems in Utah, public and private, and both are excellent options.

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