Not to be outdone by voucher zealots in the legislature, the Governor gives a super-boost to the voucher industry in his state budget proposal.

The Governor is proposing a stone’s throw away universal voucher proposal in his state budget proposal. The Senate President likes the proposal.

The proposed budget also has some large morsels for charter schools, such as doubling charter school funding for disadvantaged students and doubling the charter school facility funding to $1000 per pupil. Fordham Institute, a charter sponsor, is reported as welcoming the charter school increases.

Now that school choice is center-stage in the Governor’s education budget proposal, is there anything left for the constitutionally-required public common school system?

School district leaders—what more proof do you need? The public school system is endangered.

The time is now and the need is immense! Join the EdChoice voucher litigation.

School vouchers expansion would qualify family of four earning $111,000 a year under Gov. Mike DeWine proposal
Updated: Jan. 31, 2023, 3:03 p.m.|Published: Jan. 31, 2023, 1:15 p.m.
By Laura Hancock,

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Mike DeWine asked the legislature on Tuesday to expand vouchers for K-12 private school tuition to more Ohio families.

Families are eligible for EdChoice scholarships by either living in the boundaries of a low-performing school or by household income. Currently, a family of four can qualify for state money if the household income is at or below $69,375, or 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.

The limit would increase to 400% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which would be $111,000 for a family of four, under DeWine’s proposal.

DeWine outlined the details of his state budget proposal on Tuesday in his annual State of the State speech at the Ohio Statehouse. The legislature will review DeWine’s proposals, and make some changes to them, before passing the state’s two-year operating budget in June.

“This investment will allow more families than ever to take advantage of this scholarship and find the best school for their children,” said DeWine, a Republican.

EdChoice vouchers are distributed as checks given to private schools to help cover a student’s tuition. The scholarship amount is currently $5,500 for students in grades K-8 and $7,500 for grades 9-12.

Republicans who control the legislature expanded vouchers in 2012, 2020 and 2021.

Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican who addressed the media after DeWine’s remarks, liked the proposal, saying that increasing vouchers up to 400% of the federal poverty line covers most of the state’s residents.

“Although it’s not a universal voucher, it practically speaking is in many regards,” he said.

Sen. Kent Smith of Euclid, the Senate Democratic whip, agreed that the increase to 400% creates nearly universal eligibility for vouchers.

Smith believes that the cost of new vouchers will take away available funds for the Fair School Funding Plan, which is an overhaul of public education funding that attempted to comply with Ohio Supreme Court rulings from the early 2000s that public school funding was unconstitutional. The plan was partially implemented in the 2021 budget.

“Four hundred percent is an astronomically large number that will undercut public funding, equity and effectiveness,” Smith said after DeWine’s speech.

DeWine also wants to increase funding for charter schools, which are public schools that are usually operated independently from the local school district.

For high-quality charter schools, DeWine’s budget calls for an extra $3,000 for each economically disadvantaged student. That is up from $1,750 currently, said Chad L. Aldis, vice president for Ohio policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which sponsors charter schools and welcomes DeWine’s school choice proposals.

His budget also would increase per-student building funding for all charter schools from $500 to $1,000 per student.

2023 Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s State of the State Address

DeWine did not propose any extra per-student money for traditional public education. Details about how much the proposed expenditures would cost the state were not immediately available.

Huffman said traditional public schools will benefit from more children attending private schools. The state spends on average about $13,000 to $14,000 a year per child in traditional public schools. The high school voucher, at $7,500, is about half that, he said.

“Taking a $7,500, which is for high school, or a $5,500 for grade school, is always going to save taxpayers money,” he said.

EdChoice vouchers are the subject of a lawsuit from 130 Ohio school districts, as well as several families, who are challenging their constitutionality in a Columbus courtroom.

They argue that the Ohio constitution requires the legislature to provide for “a thorough and efficient system of common schools throughout the state,” which means traditional public schools.

EdChoice vouchers have taken hundreds of millions of dollars of available tax dollars away from traditional schools, they argue.

Andrew Tobias contributed to this report.
Laura Hancock covers state government and politics for and The Plain Dealer. Read more of her work here.
School vouchers expansion would qualify family of four earning $111,000 a year under Gov. Mike DeWine proposal –

Learn more about the EdChoice voucher litigation

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