Friday, June 22, 2012

PA Voucher Alert June 22, 2012


PA Voucher Alert 
June 22, 2012

HB2468 is the largest and most aggressive voucher proposal yet and it is fast-tracked to be part of the ongoing budget negotiations.

1. Please contact your State Reps.
It is imperative that you contact House Ed Committee Chairman Clymer (717) 783-3154 and your  State Reps, especially those who are on the House Education Committee and ask them to oppose this bill and any efforts to include the same language in any other legislation.

2. If you are able to, please consider attending Monday’s House Ed Committee meeting
The House Education Committee is scheduled to meet on Monday June 25th at 11:00 am in Room 60, East Wing, for an informational meeting on Rep. Christiana’s EITC/EISC “Supervoucher” bill, HB 2468. 

If you are able to attend the meeting to register your opposition that would be great.   Several pro-voucher organizations have been asked to provide oral testimony at the meeting, including Students First, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Catholic Conference, and the Commonwealth Foundation.

3. Please pass this alert on to any and all public education stakeholders.
Here is House Ed Committee Minority Chairman James Roebuck’s press release on HB2468 issued this morning:

State Rep. James Roebuck
D-Philadelphia
www.pahouse.com/Roebuck

Roebuck: New bill 'vouchers on steroids... worst bill yet'
Estimates 85 to 90 percent of kids getting voucher would already be in private schools

HARRISBURG, June 22 – State Rep. James Roebuck, D-Phila., Democratic chairman of the House Education Committee, said a bill set for a Monday vote in the committee is "school vouchers on steroids – the worst bill yet."

Roebuck said H.B. 2468 goes well beyond previous bills to give out tax-funded private-school vouchers, both from the Ridge era in the 1990s and bills introduced in the current session.

"Make no mistake – it's just vouchers through a tax credit. The business donations would be 90 percent reimbursed with state tax credits. It deserves careful scrutiny just as the Shell Oil tax credit proposal does," Roebuck said.

Roebuck said key areas of concern with the bill include:

  • More tax money being spent: The bill would spend $100 million on vouchers in its first year, rising to $200 million in the third year. Both figures are higher than in any previous voucher bill, Roebuck said.

  • Higher income limit: Families with incomes of up to $75,000 could get a voucher. "That is not directed at low-income families – a $75,000 income is not poor," he said.

  • Higher amount per voucher: The bill would provide the highest private-school voucher amounts ever proposed in a Pennsylvania bill – $8,500 for non-disabled students and $15,000 for students with disabilities. Roebuck said some private schools would be likely to classify as many students as possible as having disabilities, such as reading disabilities.

  • No phase-in to focus on public-school students: Previous voucher bills have included a phase-in that would restrict the program to students currently enrolled in public schools. The new bill does not.

  • Bailout for private schools: Roebuck said the lack of a phase-in would mean 85 to 90 percent of the students getting a voucher would already be in private schools. "That is not how the bill is being sold, but that would be the result," he said.

A similar Ridge administration proposal estimated 87 percent of the vouchers would go to students already in private schools. In this session, the Senate fiscal note on S.B. 1 estimated 67 percent of its vouchers would go to students already in private schools.

  • Leaving the choice to the private schools, not the students: Like all Pennsylvania voucher bills, the legislation would not require private schools or neighboring public school districts to accept any student with a voucher. "Once again, the private schools would do the choosing, not the students," Roebuck said.

Roebuck said his alternative to vouchers, All Students Can Succeed (H.B. 2322), has bipartisan support and should be considered by all who want to help children in the lowest-performing schools. More information about his bill is available at www.pahouse.com/Roebuck.

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