House clears school voucher increase, Senate running out of time

Mar 7, 2012

A plan to expand the state’s corporate tax scholarship program, commonly called school vouchers, has cleared the House on a 92 to 24 vote. Lynn Hatter reports the measure would add more money into the program, which gives money to children in failing public schools to go to private ones.

Opponents to school vouchers have long argued the program takes money away from public schools. The tax program is supported by businesses which are allowed to put money into it and write off those dollars. But Democratic Representative Mia Jones wondered how the program would work if the situation was reversed.

 “Do you think corporations would be interested in contributing to public schools?”

 Supporters say the increase is needed to meet a growing demand and waiting list for scholarships. The program is capped at $218.75 million for the upcoming fiscal year. HB 859 by Representative Richard Corcoran would increase the cap to $229 million, and do away with random school inspections. The proposal now heads to the Senate during the final two days of the legislative session.