House Education Committee members, on Tuesday, rejected voucher legislation introduced by Rep. Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls) just a few days after his previous and very similar voucher bill failed with the panel.
House Bill 289 would have created voucher scheme to funnel $6,975 of tax dollars currently going to public school classrooms into “education savings accounts” for an estimated 2,000 students to pay tuition at accredited private schools.
IEA Executive Director Paul Stark testified against the bill in committee citing the more than $1 billion in bonds and levies on local ballots in 47 of the 115 school districts across the state.
“They need the money so desperately that they’re having to ask their communities to tax themselves,” Stark told the panel. “Until the Legislature meets its constitutional mandate…we urge you not to support this bill, and others like it.”
IEA members oppose any voucher scheme that uses public tax dollars to pay for private school tuition until Idaho’s public schools are fully funded and provide an equitable and quality public education to every Idaho student.
Clow said the initial cost of the program to taxpayers would be $17.5 million. Like Senate Bill 1038, an extreme voucher bill that died in the Senate earlier in the session, HB 289 would split the funding between public and private schools — 80% ($6,975) of the per-student dedication would go into the student’s individual account, and 20% would remain with the student’s original school district or charter.
The committee voted 9-7 to hold the bill in committee.