The legislative fiscal analyst for the State of Utah calculated the costs to the public schools over the next 13 years if school vouchers are implemented. It said the costs would be $5.5M in the first year, and $71M in the 13th year. Suddenly, the number I have started seeing thrown around was $429 million, the total costs for vouchers over 13 years. Where did that number come from? Enter the mysterious "Bramble Memo".
In the past few days several of us (Jeremy, Utah Taxpayer, Craig, Sara, Urban Koda, Jesse, and me) have (sometimes?) enjoyed a lively discussion about school vouchers in Utah.
Jeremy clarified to me the costs of the venture by linking to a copy of the Utah Legislative Fiscal Analyst's Impartial Analysis (LFA) of the costs of Vouchers, found on "The Senate Site". In my previous voucher article, I quoted some of Lavar Webb's article from last Sunday's Deseret News, wherein he stated that those total costs are $429 million. Craig commented to my article that the LFA did estimate $429 million. It was just today that I looked back at the LFA on The Senate Site. It does NOT state the costs as $429 million--only that the costs would be $5.5 million in the first year and $71 million in the thirteenth year.
Craig also referred in the comments on my article to the "Bramble Memo", following comments by Utah Taxpayer about "Sen. Bramble's Request". This request is something that I had not seen before. I have since come by a copy of The Bramble Memo. (click on the image at right). That's where the $429 million is referred to. That's where Lavar Webb got his $1.8 billion number that I quoted in my previous post.
In the comments to the previous post, Craig said:
I have a copy of the Bramble memo (Frank I am happy to e-mail it to you if you'd like to see it). The press aren't using it because it is meaningless. Clearly, the $1.8 billion number is incompatible with the $429 million as it was calculated and requested for a specific purpose but it isn't relevant to the discussion.I disagree with Craig--to an extent. (See why below.)
Near the bottom of the LFA Memo to Senator Bramble is this paragraph:
We have previously projected the nominal cost of the voucher program to state government over the same thirteen years for the same population of students to be approximately $429 million.
Adjusted for inflation, the real cost of vouchers to state government over thirteen years would be around $327 million. (Memorandum to Senator Pat Jones, February 9, 2007)
So it looks like $429 million came from the memo to Senator Jones. I can't find that on the internet, either.
But here's the interesting part. The Bramble memo also mentions the $1.8 billion. (I'm doing some super sleuthing here, aren't I?)
Per your request this office has estimated the cost of educating in public schools all who would qualify for a Parent Choice in Education scholarship over the next thirteen years at approximately $1.8 billion. Corrected for price inflation, we project that the real cost of educating in the public school system all those who would qualify for vouchers over the next 13 years would be on the order of $1.4 billion.Now, let me draw your attention to a phrase from the $429 million paragraph:
...for the same population of students...
So the $1.8 billion and the $429 million are related. In other words, if "the same population of students" left the public schools, the State of Utah would save $1.8 billion, except for the nominal cost of vouchers, which is $429 million. So, Utah Taxpayer and Lavar Webb are right...sort of.
That makes Craig right, then, too.
The problem with the comparison is that the savings difference between the $1.8 billion and the $429 million ($1.371 billion) would accrue to the State of Utah under the LFA's scenario, but NOT, as it currently stands, to the Utah Public Schools.
This is a huge oversight that needs to be immediately corrected.
If the governor convened a legislative session before the November vote to get this correction written in stone, meaning that the "savings" monies were legally dedicated to the public schools, I think vouchers would be approved overwhelmingly by Utah voters.