Indiana Republican legislators dropped a surprise Monday. They are proposing to increase state funding for some students who receive state-funded vouchers to attend private schools.
They want to add a new category of voucher, bridging the gap between low-income families that qualify for “full vouchers” and middle-income families that get “half vouchers.”
Currently, students who qualify by family income for free or reduced-price school lunches qualify for a voucher worth 90 percent of state per-pupil funding received by their local public school district.
Students whose families make up to 150 percent the free-and-reduced-price lunch cutoff can get a voucher worth 50 percent of state per-pupil funding for their local public school district.
Under the proposal, students from families that make up between 100 percent and 125 percent of the cutoff would qualify for an “intermediate voucher” worth 70 percent of state per-pupil funding for the local public schools.
A family of four could make up to $58,000 a year and qualify for the 70-percent voucher. At current funding levels, that voucher would be worth about $3,700 per child, on average. I’m guessing it would pay close to the full cost of tuition at many private religious schools in Indiana.
The voucher proposal hasn’t been discussed by legislators, from what I can tell. It was included in an amendment to the budget bill that House Republicans released Monday. That means a significant change in education policy could be made with no discussion by the education committees.
The House Ways and Means Committee approved the amendment today with a vote of 16-6.