Friday, February 8, 2013

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #112– February 8, 2013

Dear Friends,

About 4:30pm yesterday (Thursday), the House Education Committee voted 9-3 to pass House Bill 1003, the enormous $47 million voucher expansion bill. It was a party line vote, with all Republicans supporting it and all Democrats opposing. It is time to contact all members of the House to ask them to oppose this bill when it comes to second and third reading on the House floor in this coming week.

Rep. Battles offered two amendments in committee to mitigate the damage of HB 1003. The first amendment would have given public school parents the same tax deduction ($3000) as the bill gives home school and private school parents. The second amendment would have raised the $4500 minimum voucher by only a cost-of-living adjustment, rather by $1000 per year each year for the next two years. Both amendments were opposed by Chairman Behning, and Rep. Battles withdrew them without a vote.

House Bill 1003 – Talking Points for Opponents
  1. Unbelievably, the tax deduction for home school and private school parents would triple under this bill while public school parents still get no deduction for textbooks or school expenses. The gross inequity of this provision is obvious. Cost to taxpayers: $5.4 million (LSA fiscal note).
  2. Special education students currently in private schools become eligible for a voucher. The most recent figures from the IDOE website show 4211 such students. Cost to taxpayers at LSA’s estimate of $4083 on average for each voucher: $17 million.
  3. The $4500 cap on the Grade 1-8 voucher is raised to $5500 the first year and to $6500 the second year. Cost to taxpayers according to LSA: $3.8 million at a minimum
  4. Children of veterans currently in private schools become eligible for a voucher. IDOE data shows 72,000 students currently in private schools that report data to the department. If just 3% of those students have a parent who is a veteran, the cost to taxpayers would be $8.8 million.
  5. Older siblings of current voucher students who are already in private schools become eligible for a voucher. If 20% of current voucher students have a sibling that becomes eligible, the cost to taxpayers would be $7.4 million.
  6. The preschool scholarship granting organizations in this bill would be able to give away $5 million in tax money as tax credits for donations to preschool tuition support.
These conservative estimates for these six portions of the bill add up to more than $47 million dollars. This is new, additional state money, mostly going to private school parents. The concept of “vouchers as a savings to the state” has been abandoned with the support of Gov. Pence. When Gov. Pence announced a 1% increase for education in his budget, the actual figure came to about $70 million. It looks now that Gov. Pence may have intended about two-thirds of that increase to go to private schools rather than to public schools.

Contact Members of the House

I urge you to contact any and all members of the House about HB 1003 this weekend, especially as you have opportunity to talk with the members at “Third House” and “Crackerbarrel” meetings this Saturday. A voucher expansion costing taxpayers $47 million in additional state money is over the top. The bill will be eligible for second reading amendments and for a final vote on third reading this week.

Let the grassroots be heard! Thanks for your efforts!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

ICPE is working to promote public education and oppose damaging voucher bills in the Statehouse. We are well represented by our lobbyist Joel Hand, but to keep him in place we need all members from last year to renew and we need new members who support public education.

Go to for membership and renewal information.

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.

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