On Tuesday, June 11, 2019, the Senate adopted a substitute bill for the state budget (HB 166). The Senate’s substitute bill includes several provisions related to the EdChoice voucher program that serve to expand the eligibility, availability, and cost of vouchers. OEA opposes these changes.
The substitute bill includes a provision that would trigger an automatic increase in the number of traditional EdChoice vouchers if the number of applicants reaches 90% of the cap (currently 60,000). Beginning in the 2020-21 school year, eligibility for the income-based voucher program would be expanded to all grades with an increased appropriation of $50 million. Additionally, the substitute bill would calculate EdChoice voucher amounts prior to the application of financial aid or scholarships received by the student. This would result in higher deductions from state aid to school districts and increased costs to taxpayers.
OEA is opposed to the creation of new voucher programs or the expansion of existing ones. OEA believes these funds would be better applied to the approximately 90% of students who attend Ohio’s local public schools.
- Draining resources — OEA is opposed to the creation or expansion of voucher programs as they drain needed resources from the approximately 90% of students who attend Ohio’s local public schools.
- Increased costs — The bill would expand eligibility for the income-based voucher program to all grades with an additional appropriation of $50 million. Further, the bill would calculate voucher amounts prior to the application of financial aid or scholarships received by the student. That would result in higher deductions from state payments to school districts and increased costs to taxpayers.
- Misplaced priorities — The expansion of eligibility for vouchers and increased program costs would come at a time when many districts are underfunded in the current budget.
TAKE ACTION by urging your Senator to oppose these voucher provisions in the budget.