The Indiana Senate narrowly passed Wednesday legislation expanding the state’s school voucher program.
The Senate scaled back the extent of voucher expansion. The original House version entirely removed the requirement that voucher recipients attend public school for at least one year after kindergarten.
The Senate’s version keeps that requirement but allows kindergarten to count toward that time. The Senate also added a provision allowing students to skip public school if the public school they are supposed to attend received an F under the state’s rating system.
Sen. Carlin Yoder (R-Middlebury) says the bill is about helping ensure no Hoosier children have to attend a failing school.
“That every kid in Indiana has a right to good education, the right to move themselves forward and the right to be successful in life and this bill does that,” he says. “This bill is a family friendly bill.”
But Sen. Tim Skinner (D-Terre Haute) says voucher expansion takes much-needed money away from public schools, which serve far more Hoosier children.
“I can’t believe that the advocates of the vouchers can speak so loudly and hear so strongly the voices of so few and ignore the voices of so many,” he says.
The voucher expansion bill passed 27-23, with 10 Republicans joining all 13 Democrats voting against it. The measure now likely heads to conference committee for the House and Senate to work out their differences.
For more on how many more students will qualify under the expansion, visit StateImpact Indiana, an NPR and WFIU collaboration.