IBJNews

Lawmakers draw close on limited voucher-expansion plan

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Indiana lawmakers drew closer Thursday to approving a modest expansion of the state's school voucher program following a meeting of House and Senate lawmakers.

Members of the voucher conference committee considered slight adjustments to a Senate proposal that expands access for siblings of students already enrolled in the voucher program, increased the amount of each voucher by $200 and eliminated a one-year wait for any student who would attend a "failing" public school.

Conferees are considering raising the amount of each voucher by $400 and expanding the number of students who qualify for a state voucher if they received a voucher from a scholarship granting organization.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he would work to approve a more ambitious proposal before lawmakers wrap up their 2013 session at the end of next week.

"Our goal will be to make it closer, obviously, to the House version. To give more low-income, inner-city families the opportunity to have a school of choice. The Senate version still expanded the voucher program. It just did so in a much more modest fashion," Bosma said. "We'll end up some place in the middle, is my hope."

House Republicans approved a measure that would have increased voucher amounts by $1,000, raised income requirements for some families and eliminated a one-year wait in public schools. But Senate Democrats and Republicans expressed concerns with potentially turning the voucher program into a subsidy for families already sending their children to private school, a costly proposition for the state.

Democrats on the conference committee failed to delay the expansion Thursday by putting the question to a summer study committee.

"My concern as we continue to expand the voucher system, is that at what point are we actually leaving a choice for our kids that are in our public schools?" asked Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point. "At what point do they get to the point they can't function because they're not receiving enough dollars because they don't have enough students?"

Legislative analysts have not affixed a firm price tag this year to opening the doors for all students to win vouchers, but previous estimates have placed the cost at more than $100 million. House Education Chairman Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, said the point could be moot, however, because Indiana's private schools cannot accommodate all of the state's roughly 1 million students.

"It's limited by capacity," he said, noting a 2011 estimate that there were 22,000 seats available in Indiana's private schools. "We could say it would move a million kids over to non-public schools, but there are not a million seats in non-public schools."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

ADVERTISEMENT