I was on a panel last year with someone from the Friedman Foundation, and he waxed on about how wonderful vouchers are and how much the public wants them. He cited polls to prove his point.

But there is only one poll that matters, and that is the one at the ballot box. That’s why the information in this post is so helpful. Keep it in your wallet, or just remember this plain fact: voters have never approved a voucher plan.

This is from Bill Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy:

Statewide referenda on school vouchers or their mutations: majority of citizens vote no

“Ohio’s education choice policies were initiated by proposals tucked in budget bills. Full debate on the merits of the proposals in single subject bills didn’t happen. In time, zealous advocates of choice policies gained sufficient political clout to leverage massive expansion. School districts lose over $1 billion annually to choice programs; and additionally, the state funds administrative cost reimbursement and auxiliary services for private schools. Districts also pick up the tab for transportation.

Vouchers and their mutations have never been subjected to a statewide vote in Ohio. Edd Doerr of Americans for Religious Liberty authored an essay that included the outcome of statewide referenda in various states over a 40-year span as follow:

Tax-funded vouchers

Nebraska 1970 Tax code vouchers 57-43 against

Maryland 1972 Vouchers 55-45 against

Michigan 1978 Vouchers 74-26 against

Washington, DC 1981 Tax code vouchers 89-11 against

Utah 1988 Tax code vouchers 70-30 against

Oregon 1990 Tax code vouchers 67-33 against

Colorado 1992 Vouchers 67-33 against

California 1993 Vouchers 70-30 against
Washington State 1996 Vouchers 64-36 against

Colorado 1998 Tax code vouchers 60-40 against

Michigan 2000 Vouchers 69-31 against

California 2000 Vouchers 71-29 against

Utah 2007 Vouchers 62-38 against

Florida 2012 Vouchers 55-45 against

Hawaii 2014 Vouchers 55-45 against

Tax-funded transportation

Nebraska 1966 Bus transportation 57-43 against (%)

Idaho 1972 Bus transportation 57-43 against

Tax support

New York 1967 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 72-28 against

Michigan 1970 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 57-43 against

Oregon 1972 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 61-39 against

Washington State 1975 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 60-39 against

Alaska 1976 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 54-46 against

Massachusetts 1986 Constitutional change to allow tax aid 70-30 against

Auxiliary services

Maryland 1974 Auxiliary services 56-43 against

Missouri 1976 Auxiliary services 60-40 against

Massachusetts 1982 Auxiliary services 62-38 against

South Dakota 2004 Auxiliary services 53-47 against


California 1982 Textbook aid 61-39 against

South Dakota 1986 Textbooks 54-46 for

Ohioans should be given the opportunity to weigh in on choice policies, i.e. tax funds flowing to privately-operated education entities. A statewide referendum would provide that opportunity.

William Phillis

Ohio E & A

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