A new voucher proposal is working its way through the Idaho Senate. S1144, introduced by Senator Lori Den Hartog (R – Meridian), takes the existing Empowering Parents Grant program and adds tuition as an allowable expense. Currently, the Empowering Parents Grant program allows families to apply for $1,000 grants, up to $3,000 per household, to cover the costs of learning materials, educational support services, therapies, technology devices, internet services and other approved vendors. The new proposal expands the use of grants of up to $6,000 for private school tuition and mileage reimbursement for school drop-offs or carpools. Tuition grants would be awarded to 2,000 students annually and prioritized for families with the lowest adjusted gross incomes.
S1144 was initially set to start in the House Education Committee last week but was pulled from the agenda when proponents feared the committee would vote it down. Instead, the bill appeared in the Senate State Affairs committee this week and was sent to the Senate Education committee for consideration. In mid-February, the Senate Education Committee approved a massive voucher program with a 6-3 vote.