$55.2M school voucher program proposal passes Iowa Senate

(The Center Square) – Thousands of Iowa primary and secondary school students would become eligible for taxpayer-funded school vouchers for private schools if the Iowa House of Representatives approves a bill the Senate passed Wednesday night.

SF2369 passed the Senate in a 31-18 vote. If enacted into law, it would provide 5,000 scholarships annually to students with individualized education programs and another 5,000 for children of families who earn more than 400% times the poverty line income.

The scholarships program would require an annual appropriation of $55.2 million beginning with fiscal year 2023, assuming all 10,000 scholarships are awarded, according to the bill’s NOBA.

Democrats weren’t interested in using public tax dollars for private school education and said it would hurt public schools.

Iowa State Education Association President Mike Beranek said in a statement that the association opposes the bill because public dollars should go to public education, KCRG reported.

“Most students do not even have access to and will not benefit from private school options. … Our public schools need more resources to address the needs of the nearly 500,000 students who attend them,” he said. “Private school vouchers take a large slice out of that funding.”

Gov. Kim Reynolds, a vouchers proponent, urged the House to approve the bill in a statement Wednesday.

“The Senate made clear tonight that parents matter. Iowans want and deserve school choice and educational freedom for their children … If education truly is the great equalizer, we should create opportunities for more families to provide their children with the education choice that’s best for them. That’s exactly what this legislation does,” she said.