House Passes Broad Voucher Bill

Proposal Among Broadest In Nation

The Indiana House on Wednesday passed what would be the nation's broadest use of school vouchers, allowing even middle-class families to use taxpayer money to send their children to private schools. The bill passed the house 56-42.

In an effort to lure House Democrats back from a five-week, self-imposed exile in Illinois, Republicans agreed to reduce the number of vouchers, with a limit of 7,500 the first year and 15,000 the second, 6News' Norman Cox reported.

Still, unlike other systems that are limited to lower-income households, children with special needs or those in failing schools, this one would be open to a much larger pool of students, including those whose parents earn up to $60,000 a year.

"This is yet another option for parents to choose a school that best meets their child's needs, regardless of their income or ZIP code," said House Speaker Brian Bosma. "We must give families the option to provide their children with the best education they need to be successful."

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett also praised the measure.

“This bold move is a critical piece of our comprehensive efforts to transform the current culture in our schools," he said in a statement. "I hope today’s action on HB 1003 is a positive indication of even more good things to come for Indiana’s students.”

Students receiving vouchers make up less than 1 percent of enrollment nationwide, but vouchers have been one of the top priorities among conservatives.

The bill now moves on to the Senate.