(Geoffrey Lawrence/NPRI) – Last night, testimony was heard by the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on SJR10, a resolution that would amend the Nevada Constitution to allow for public education vouchers. The hearing drew a large crowd, particularly in Las Vegas where a roomful of students and parents showed up to support the resolution. The R-J’s Doug McMurdo covered the hearing here.
SJR10 would not immediately institute a public school voucher program. However, it would allow the legislature to create one in the future by eliminating current constitutional barriers, as embodied in the so-called “Blaine Amendment.” In addition to drawing the support of lawmakers, the resolution would need to draw majority support from the general electorate in two consecutive elections in order to change the constitution.
While this is an aggressive approach, a constitutional amendment is not necessary to increase school choice options. There are a plethora of alternatives to outright vouchers that would not be inhibited by the Blaine Amendment. One such alternative, a tuition tax credit program similar to Florida’s Step Up for Students program, has been modeled by the Nevada Policy Research Institute. The program would save roughly $1 billion over its first 10 years while dramatically increasing school choice and, consequently, student achievement.