What the Bill Does
- SB 48 expands education savings accounts as a back door to funnel more public dollars into private schools without the eligibility restrictions of other voucher programs.
- It also merges the Hope Voucher with the Florida Empowerment, and Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. New name: Florida K-12 Education Funding Tax Credit Program. (EFTCP)
- EFTCP has annual automatic escalator of 1% of state’s student population (excluding students already in EFTCP)
- Increases income eligibility to 300% of poverty for all programs using income as a qualification.
SB 48 will have its final committee stop in the Senate Appropriations Committee. We’ll let you know when SB 48 is placed on the agenda.
Currently there is no companion in the House.
- 2/3/21 Senate Education Committee 6-4 party line vote
- 2/17/21 Senate Education Appropriations Committee 6-3 party line vote
We oppose this bill.
- The teacher and staff shortage in Florida’s public schools means many students lack the small class sizes and one-on-one attention they need and deserve. Focusing resources on the schools 90% of Florida’s students attend should be the focus, not expanding vouchers for private and religious schools.
- Especially at a time when our public schools are facing unprecedented challenges, available resources should go to support the more than almost 3 million public school students in all 67 counties instead of to private and religious schools which disproportionally impact students in large, urban counties.
- If we have more funds to invest, the state should invest in our underfunded public schools. Ensuring equitable access to a high-quality adequately funded public schools is not just a much higher priority than voucher programs, it is constitutionally obligated.
- Despite adding a huge price tag to the state’s bottom line, SB 48 provides no additional accountability or oversight to these voucher programs and, in fact, lessens accountability for the organizations that provide vouchers.
- Expanding education savings account as a back door to funnel more public dollars into private schools without the eligibility restrictions of other scholarship programs.
- Only a small minority of private schools are required to report student performance data in stark contrast with accountability measures for public schools.
- 2/3/21 Senate Education Committee
- The bill is introduced at the start of the meeting
- At 1:00:40 Sen. Jones introduces an amendment to require all students receiving vouchers to take the same test as public school students. His amendment failed along a party-line vote
- At 1:36:40 Sen. Thurston give an impassioned plea against SB 48.
- At 1:43:30 Sen. Jones also makes the case against SB 48.
- 2/17/21 Senate Education Appropriations Committee
- The bill is taken up at the start of meeting.