The nearly nine-month battle between public school advocates and voucher proponents over the controversial school voucher program had a price tag of around $8.4 million, according to campaign reports released today.
Hefty chunks of the funding came from Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, who backed the the pro-voucher Parents for Choice in Education, and members of the Byrne family.
Opponents, including Utahns for Public Schools, an anti-voucher coalition, received much of their funding from the National Education organization.
The voucher law that the Legislature passed earlier this year would have provided Utah families with a private-school tuition voucher ranging from $500 to $3,000 per student attending a private school, based on parents' income. HB148 also appropriated $9.2 million to offset any financial impact that school districts might experience for five years after a student leaves and goes to a private school.
But voucher opponents Utahns for Public Schools, which included the Utah PTA, Utah Education Association and the NAACP didn't like the idea of shifting public money to private schools.
In March, the group successfully filed for a referendum to let voters either repeal or keep the voucher program. In the months following, campaign officials spent millions on advertising as well as enlisting grass-roots volunteer efforts to get their message out.And on Nov. 6, after nearly nine months of fierce campaigning, Utahns voted down the law by 62 percent.
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