PA Coalition for World Class Math

                                        PA Senate Passes Voucher Bill 10/28/2011

Senate Passes Voucher Bill

On Oct. 26, 2011 the Senate passed an amended version of  SB 1, legislation that creates a program for taxpayer funded tuition vouchers and expansion of charter schools and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.  The measure was adopted with a vote of 27-22 following about four hours of debate on the Senate floor.  A handful of amendments were offered on the Senate floor, but none were adopted. The bill is now in the House Education Committee for further consideration.

The previous day, Oct. 25, the Senate Education Committee replaced the previous version of SB 1 with a comprehensive amendment that includes proposals for taxpayer funded vouchers and expansion of charter schools and the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program.  The amendment was offered by Senators Piccola and Anthony Williams. The amendment includes most of the components of a plan announced by Gov. Corbett on Oct. 11.

A new fiscal note attached to SB 1 prepared by Senate Republicans estimates that the cost of the voucher plan at $42.6 million in 2012-13 for the first year, and jumps to $81.4 million in 2013-14.  In determining the fiscal impact, this estimate assumes that 3% of the free lunch eligible students and 5% of the reduced price lunch students will receive vouchers. The fiscal note also attributes the jump in cost in 2013-14 for vouchers for students already attending nonpublic schools. PSBA’s fiscal impact projections place the cost of vouchers in 2012-13 at $51.8 million, assuming 10% enrollment of free lunch eligible students and 10% of the reduced price lunch students. In the second year, assuming enrollments of 15% in each category, the cost of vouchers would rise to $251.9 million.

Summary of Taxpayer-Funded Voucher Proposals

Since January, there's been an effort in the General Assembly to advance state legislation designed to provide students across the state with a taxpayer-funded tuition voucher to attend the public, private or parochial school of their choice. Interested parties have come out strong on both sides of the debate, and although the push for this legislation ebbed and flowed for a couple of months, over the course of the spring the issue heated up one final time before summer recess.  Although the General Assembly was not able to agree on a voucher program, a voucher bill is slated as a priority this fall, and the discussion now revolves around several bills that offer variations of the original bill, Senate Bill 1. Below are links to summaries of each of the voucher proposals currently on the table: