Nation's largest school choice voucher bill passes IN House

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April 1, 2011

Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana: The nation's largest expansion of school choice voucher programs passed the Indiana House March 30 by a 56-42 vote.

HB 1003 provides a way for low and middle income families to choose private education over public for their children. The bill operates on a sliding income scale, allowing families of four, making less than $60,000 per year to become eligible for the voucher.[1] Depending on income levels, some families may receive up to 90 percent of taxpayer funded support towards their tuition.[2]

During the legislative walkout that ended Monday, Democrats held out for compromises to many bills, including HB 1003. One concession made by Republicans was to limit the number of vouchers available to 7,500 in the first year and 15,000 in the second. The cap disappears in the third year.[3]

According to Robert Enlow, President and CEO of The Foundation for Educational Choice, the goal of the bill is to make sure as many children as possible get their choice, and that the right to chose schools remains in the parent's hands.[2]

Democrats and four Republicans argue otherwise. Democratic Rep. Ed DeLaney said the bill will hurt charitable contributions to private schools, like the ones he has made to support Catholic schools. He also cautioned that people may decide against giving their own money to schools if tax dollars are available, and noted that "with those tax dollars come government interference."[3]

House Speaker Brian Bosma, co-author of the bill, states "This [bill] is about promoting opportunity, focused tightly on those that have no choice today...I'm not here to condemn a system or to condemn a profession, but I'm not here to protect a system, either."[3]

The bill is currently in the Senate, for its first reading by the Education and Career Development Committee.

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