School voucher bill advances over criticism | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

School voucher bill advances over criticism

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 10:36 AM

The Senate Education Committee this morning approved the bill to divert state tax money to private schools, a backdoor voucher bill that uses tax credits for contributions to 529 savings plans to accomplish a public subsidy of private schools. It's expected to be easily approved in the House and Senate though it's a historic diversion of state tax money
to general private school use.

The bill has been estimated by state finance officials to take $5.2 million a year out of state revenue and divert it to private school tuition.

Sen. Linda Chesterfield objected. She said she opposed the bill as a policy matter, but also noted that it would primarily benefit higher-income parents and would be of no use in poor parts of the state where private school options are virtually non-existent.

Ginny Blankenship of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families said the bill diverted badly needed public money to private schools and follows refusal by the legislature to provide money to cover shortfalls in funding for catastrophic educational needs; for pre-K education and for after-school tutoring programs.

The bill was approved on a voice vote, but three Democrats voted no on the eight-member committee.

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