The school funding subcommittee of the state Senate Appropriations Committee will meet Thursday at the Indiana Statehouse. Normally, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But this may be the last chance for the public and advocates to weigh in on a planned expansion of Indiana’s school voucher system.
True, it won’t be much of a chance. The subcommittee will meet 15 minutes after the Senate adjourns. No one knows what time that will be. To testify, you have to be there in person. We can watch, but not speak, on the legislature’s streaming site.
It may also be the only time senators actually discuss the plan to dramatically expand the voucher program and create a new education scholarship account program, both of which will significantly boost funding for unregulated private schools. The voucher expansion would extend private school tuition assistance to a family of four that makes up to $145,000. ESA’s would fund private school tuition and other services for students with disabilities, children of military personnel and children in foster care.
The House approved the plan in House Bill 1005 by a vote of 61-38 on Feb. 16. The legislation then went to the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, which hasn’t scheduled it for a hearing. But that doesn’t matter, because House Republican leaders also inserted identical voucher and ESA language in the two-year state budget, where it will get lost amid $36 billion in spending.Continue reading