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Legislators Propose Minor Changes To Voucher Expansion

The House author of school voucher expansion legislation is proposing only minor changes to the bill as it leaves the Senate, and that could signal the measure’s clear path towards passage.

The original voucher expansion bill significantly raised the dollar value of the vouchers over the next two years and removed the public school attendance requirement for voucher recipients. The Senate curbed the voucher amount and added a public kindergarten attendance requirement.

Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) has proposed an amendment that slightly raises the monetary voucher limit to $4,700 next year and $4,900 in 2015. He says he does not plan to address the attendance requirement after the Senate altered it.

“I did not change any of the parameters they had in terms of that,” Behning says. “They have already voted on what’s in the bill. I’m not trying to ask them to re-vote on that issue.”

The Senate passed the voucher expansion bill by only a two-vote margin, and Sen. Doug Eckerty (R-Yorktown), the bill’s sponsor, says he anticipates a close vote again.

“We’ll have to take a look at it in its fiscal entirety, how everything all fits together, not just with this but with the budget as a whole, the governor’s tax cut proposal and things like that,” he says. ” So it’s all going to have to go into the mix; then we’re going to have to sort it all out.”

Behning indicated that with elimination of the public school attendance requirement essentially dead this year, it is likely to come up again in the future, particularly as an initiative of the governor.

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