Indiana Senate Passes Nation's Largest Voucher Bill
INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The Indiana Senate today passed legislation that would create the nation's broadest school voucher program, allowing low- and middle-income families to use taxpayer funds to send their children to the private school of their choice.This will merit celebration when the Governor signs it. Arizona's Governor, Jan Brewer, just vetoed a tax-rebate-funded voucher program (wasting litigation that had won a 5-4 decision from the US Supreme Court), so strange things can happen. Still, expect this to become law.
House Bill 1003, which was approved by the Senate in a 28-22 vote, would create a new scholarship program enabling families to send their children to the private school of their choice. Scholarship amounts are determined on a sliding scale based on income, with families receiving up to 90 percent of state support.
The Indiana House of Representatives previously approved a similar version of the bill by a vote of 56-42. The Senate version, which adds a $1,000 tax deduction for families that pay out of pocket for private or homeschool expenses, will now go back to the House. If the House agrees to the changes made in the Senate, the bill will proceed to Governor Daniels, who is expected to sign the bill into law.
"This is exciting news," said Robert Enlow, President and CEO of the Foundation for Educational Choice. "We applaud those legislators who stood tall for kids, and we hope the House will concur as soon as possible so that Indiana families who desperately need educational options do not have to wait any longer."
If enacted, the voucher would be available to far more students than other programs in the country, where vouchers are limited to low-income households, students in failing schools, or special-needs students. Under HB 1003, a family of four earning up to $61,000 per year would be eligible.
Additionally, the $1,000 tax deduction for private and homeschool expenses has universal eligibility. The bill also improves Indiana's scholarship tax credit program by increasing the program cap to $5 million, making $10 million in scholarships available to Hoosier families.