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Corporate Vouchers Expansion

April 22nd, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

At a time when public schools are facing cuts or, at best, treading water, private schools are getting an extra 22 million dollars from the state. Governor Charlie Crist signed the legislation diverting the money today. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the new law also contains automatic increases in state funding for private schools.

A month ago, hundreds of private schools kids and their teachers came to the Capitol to show their support for public funding of their schools.

On Thursday, they got the ultimate show of support from Governor Charlie Crist. He signed into law legislation making an additional 22 million dollars available to private schools from corporate tax credits.

Under the plan, corporate and other taxes due the state are diverted to a private account. Critics say the diversion hurts public schools, but the Senate sponsor says it saves the state money.

It doesnt take away money from public schools,” Sen. Joe Negron (R-Port St. Lucie) said. “It actually saves us money. Because its much less expensive than having a student in public schools.

While the program only gives private schools 60 percent of the per student total given to public schools, that percentage will rise to 80 percent over time. The bill also automatically increases the total amount available as money runs out.

I dont think its an entitlement at all,” Rep. Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel) said. “I think this bill is about empowering families. This is about giving families a choice.

Religious leaders praised the increase. So did several students.

I was getting picked on a lot on my bad grades,” Denisha Merriweather, a private school student from Jacksonville said. “But when I transferred to a private school, the influence was very positive. I was getting help from my peers.

Teachers Unions say they will continue to opposed the plan until public schools are fully funded.

More than 27-thousand students are enrolled in the program.

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