(The Center Square) – An Ohio policy group continues to push the Senate to adopt universal school choice, testifying a plan passed by the House would leave “many working class families” out of the option.
Greg Lawson, research fellow at The Buckeye Institute, told the Senate Education Committee in written testimony to make school choice available to all students and increase funding for charter schools, two areas where Lawson said the current House-passed budget falls short.
“EdChoice would grow under House Bill 33, but many working-class families would still be ineligible,” Lawsons said in his testimony. “These working-class families deserve the same opportunity to help their children succeed in school with an educational environment that best fits their students’ needs.”
As previously reported by The Center Square, the House passed budget increases the income limit for the school voucher program from 250% to 450% of the federal poverty level. Rep. Tracy Richardson, R-Marysville, said that a family of four making $135,000 or less would be eligible for private school vouchers, representing nearly 75% of children ages 6-18 in the state.
It also increases the per-student amount of taxpayer dollars the state gives to qualifying charter schools.
Lawson pointed to a Buckeye Institute analysis that showed a family of four in Dayton with jobs as a police officer and teacher with two children attending Chaminade Julieen Catholic High School would not qualify for vouchers and pay nearly $25,000 annually for tuition.
As previously reported by The Center Square, fiscal notes provided by the state’s Legislative Service Commission said universal school choice could cost Ohio taxpayers more than $1 billion.
Lawson testified the state could afford the cost with its large current revenue surplus.
“With a $6 billion surplus of taxpayer money currently sitting in state coffers, now is the time for the Senate to make all students eligible for Ohio’s most successful school choice program to date and increase funding for our public charter schools,” Lawson testified.
The Ohio Education Association testified vouchers hurt public schools, where about 90% of Ohio students attend.
“While we support the right of parents to determine the best education environment for their children, we do not think Ohio’s taxpayers should be forced to pay for that choice,” Scott DiMauro, president of OEA. “EdChoice eligibility already extends to students based on the report card rating of their home school or for families with income below 250% of poverty. I will note that the current eligibility is higher than eligibility for Medicaid, free or reduced lunch, and income-based programs…”
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.
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