Utah Legislature passes school choice bill

Utah’s newest school choice legislation is on its way to the governor’s desk.

After HB 215 passed the House on Friday, it sped through the Senate with little difficulty. Although several Democratic Senators proposed amendments on Wednesday related to accountability, anti-discrimination processes and transportation liability, none succeeded. 

The effort to pass the bill was led by Rep. Candice Pierucci, R-Herriman, and supported in the Senate by Sen. Kirk Cullimore, R-District 19. 

As previously reported by The Lion, the bill has two main thrusts. 

First, it will establish the Utah Fits All Scholarship Program in the 2024-2025 school year, granting up to $8,000 to eligible K-12 students for educational expenses. 

Second, it will increase the salaries and benefits of public school staff by $6,000. 

In the past, Gov. Spencer Cox was hesitant to support school choice, saying it was more important to invest in public education. 

However, he told local media he would support HB 215, calling it “a very balanced approach.” 

Although Cox hasn’t taken official action, school choice advocates are already celebrating. 

“Utah Senate passed a bill to fund students instead of systems,” tweeted Corey DeAngelis. 

“We did it!” tweeted Pierucci. “HB 215 has passed the Utah State Legislature with a supermajority and is on its way to @GovCox to sign!”