The Louisiana Supreme Court may have ruled that Governor Bobby Jindal and the Legislature cannot fund the state’s voucher program with the same “minimum foundation” constitutionally reserved for public schools, but that doesn’t mean that Jindal has to scrap his effort. Just after the 6–1 decision Tuesday, Jindal pledged to keep the program alive by funding it elsewhere in the budget. About 8,000 children had already been promised vouchers for next year.
But it’s hard to imagine how the program could grow much more than that if the governor has to find budgetary leftovers to fund it. Every year since 2008, the governor and lawmakers have had to scratch and claw for funds to bankroll the New Orleans voucher program, which was the precursor to the statewide voucher effort. In 2011, the New Orleans program got $9 million from the general budget, which amounted to less than $5,000 per student then.
By contrast, Louisiana’s K–12 public schools received $3.4 billion from the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) in 2011, which came to an average $8,763 per pupil.
And that helps explain why Jindal sought funding for the statewide voucher program through the MFP. The governor can’t fund reform adequately if he has to seek out dollars—and struggle annually with state lawmakers—that don’t go into the entitlement spending for school boards.
Moreover, he shouldn’t have to. Students receiving the Louisiana voucher have to take the same standardized tests as those administered at public schools, and the schools they attend can...