Election Section

Voucher bill introduced in response to ruling by Supreme Court

By Jessica Brice, The Associated Press
Saturday June 29, 2002

SACRAMENTO — A Republican senator is hoping the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that school vouchers are constitutional will jump-start a movement to get vouchers passed in California. 

Following Thursday’s ruling, Sen. Ray Haynes, R-Riverside, introduced a bill that could pave the way for parents to start receiving publicly funded coupons that could be used to pay for private school tuition. 

In its 5-4 ruling upholding a tuition-subsidy program in Cleveland, the Supreme Court said vouchers are constitutional if parents retain a wide choice of where to send their children. 

Opponents had argued that since the overwhelming majority of private schools have religious affiliations, voucher programs result in state funding going to church schools. 

Haynes said in a statement that the Supreme Court’s decision “finally ends the debate over whether offering our families true choice is somehow a violation of the Constitution.” 

Haynes admitted that a bill introduced this late in the legislative session will have a difficult time making its way through both houses. 

But time is not all that is working against Hayne’s voucher bill. California voters have twice rejected school vouchers, including a 2000 ballot measure that would have authorized $4,000 vouchers to allow as many as 6.6 million California children to attend private schools. 

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin said Thursday that she doesn’t think the ruling will affect California. 

“California is not a voucher state,” she said. “When you start giving money to private schools, you have to hold them to much higher standards. Some private schools don’t even want to be in that game.” 

But Haynes said he expects this bill, unlike his three previous attempts to get vouchers approved, will gain support from lawmakers.