California Proposition 174, School Vouchers (1993)

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California Proposition 174 was on the November 2, 1993 general election ballot in California as an initiated constitutional amendment , where it was defeated.

Proposition 174 would have provided vouchers for families in California to pay tuition at schools other than their local public school. The amount of the voucher would have equalled half of the amount spent by the state on each child. The scholarship could have been used for the payment of tuition and other education fees at schools with 25 pupils or more that choose to join the program. Both private and public schools could become independent and require payments from parents beyond the voucher amounts provided.

Proposition 174 would also have imposed new restrictions on the ability of state and local governments to create new regulations affecting private schools, and would have allowed parents to choose which schools within the district their children would attend.

Opponents spent $18 million to defeat Proposition 174.[1]

Election results

Proposition 174
Defeatedd No3,567,83369.5%
Yes 1,561,514 30.4%

Constitutional changes

If Proposition 174 had been approved, it would have added a new Section 17 to Article IX of the California Constitution.

Text of measure

Proposition 174 1993.PNG

The ballot title was:


The ballot summary was:

  • Amends California Constitution to enable parents to choose a child's school by requiring State to provide a voucher for every school-age child equal to at least 50 percent of prior fiscal year per pupil spending for K-12 public schools.
  • Requires Legislature to establish procedures whereby public schools may become independent voucher-redeeming schools. Vouchers may be redeemed by such schools and by qualifying private schools.
  • Authorizes required academic testing.
  • Limits new regulation of private and voucher-redeeming schools.
  • Voucher expenditures and specified savings count toward education's existing constitutional minimum funding guarantee.

Fiscal estimate

The fiscal estimate provided by the California Legislative Analyst's Office said:

  • Long-term (by the fifth year) net fiscal effect on state funding of K-12 schools is largely unknown. Annual impact likely to range from costs of about $800 million to savings of about $1 billion, depending on the number of pupils who shift from public schools to schools that accept vouchers and legislative decisions on funding of public schools.
  • Short-term (first few years) state costs averaging hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
  • Debt service savings to the state and school districts potentially in excess of $100 million annually after 10-20 years, resulting from reduced need for construction of public schools.

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