Review of Papers Estimating Budgetary Implications of Ending Louisiana Voucher Program

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Key New NEPC Review Takeaway: Terminating program may yield savings or add expenditures, depending on key assumptions.

Two recent papers from researchers at the University of Arkansas offer predictions about the budgetary consequences of terminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program (LSP), a voucher program that funds over 7,100 Louisiana students to attend private schools.

Using an economic model, the papers offer several different scenarios and then conclude that terminating the LSP would increase the costs statewide and do so in almost all districts in the state. The papers’ findings are reasonable but depend on unproven assumption, according to NEPC reviewer Clive Belfield. Other reasonable assumptions would show termination generating savings. Accordingly, the papers do not make a fully convincing case that the state will incur extra expenditures without the LSP. But in any case, the net fiscal effect of terminating the LSP is unlikely to be large; in the context of a $9 billion state expenditure, the change would likely be less than $10 million.

Queens College, City University of New York professor Clive Belfield reviewed Squeezing the Public School Districts: The Fiscal Effects of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program and The Fiscal Effect of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program on State Education for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder’s School of Education.

There may be savings or additional expenditures, Professor Belfield states, depending on several key parameters that have not been precisely estimated. He also notes that the papers’ findings of extra costs run counter to those of the state’s Legislative Fiscal Office, which estimated savings from program termination. But the papers do not mention this contrary evidence.

Nevertheless, Professor Belfield concludes that these papers provide a useful analysis and application of a reasonable economic model to understanding the immediate fiscal impact of voucher systems.

Find Clive Belfield’s review at:
http://nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-Louisiana

Find Squeezing the Public School Districts: The Fiscal Effects of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program, by Corey A. DeAngelis and Julie R. Trivitt, published by the University of Arkansas, at http://www.uaedreform.org/downloads/2016/08/squeezing-the-public-school-districts-the-fiscal-effects-of-eliminating-the-louisiana-scholarship-program.pdf. Find The Fiscal Effect of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program on State Education, by Julie R. Trivitt and Corey A. DeAngelis, also published by the University of Arkansas, at http://www.uaedreform.org/downloads/2016/04/12162.pdf.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project (http://thinktankreview.org) provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice: http://www.greatlakescenter.org

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.edu

Find Documents:
Press Release: nepc.info/node/8233
NEPC Review: nepc.colorado.edu/thinktank/review-louisiana
Report Reviewed: http://www.uaedreform.org/downloads/2016/08/squeezing-the-public-school-districts-the-fiscal-effects-of-eliminating-the-louisiana-scholarship-program.pdf

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William J. Mathis

Clive Belfield
Queens College, City University of New York
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