Funding for La.'s Voucher Program Ruled Unconstitutional
The Louisiana Supreme Court has ruled that the current method of funding the state's far-reaching voucher program is unconstitutional, in a blow to one of the most sweeping private school choice efforts in the country.
The voucher program, championed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, would have diverted part of each student's per-pupil funding to go toward private school tuition. That funding model violates the state's constitution, according to the state's supreme court justices, who said that per-pupil money flow must go toward public schools only.
The ruling, which passed in a 6-1 vote, upholds a decision by a lower court in November that also ruled the funding of the voucher program unconstitutional.
The resolution passed to create the funding mechanism, Senate Concurrent Resolution 99, was also declared unconstitutional by the court, the majority of whose members found that it failed to gather the amount of votes needed for approval. The court also ruled that the measure was introduced too late—on the 85th day of the legislative session—and that all laws must be introduced by the 82nd day of the session.
The court's decision does not necessarily put an end to the voucher program, but voucher proponents will have to come up with a new funding method to move it forward. So far, Jindal has not specified where the funding might come from.
State superintendent John White said today that "we will find funding and keep fighting this," according to a press release from the Center for Education Reform, a school choice-advocacy group.
He reiterated his stance in a tweet earlier today:
Today's ruling preserves families' right to choose a school for their children. Now we will work with the legislature to fund their choices.— John White (@LouisianaSupe) May 7, 2013