What Happened with HB1004 and What Is Key to SB276?
Lifetime Vouchers for Pre-K ($6 M to $10.5 M): Approaching Half the Annual Funding for Pre-K Itself House Bill 1004 gives a lifetime K-12 voucher to any student that gets a pre-kindergarten grant.
The bill sets the income cap for this voucher expansion at a high level: $89,900 for a family of four. This is 200% of the reduced lunch income level and higher than most pathways to vouchers which are capped at 150% of the reduce lunch level.
The bill also doubles the number of families that can apply for a pre-K grant and thereby qualify for a lifetime voucher by raising the pre-K income cap from $31,000 to $67,000 (for a family of four). This expensive voucher guarantee would eventually lead to voucher eligibility for all students. Universal vouchers have long been the Holy Grail for voucher advocates like Representative Behning. Obviously if they can hitch vouchers to pre-K, they can ride the pre-K escalator up as it eventually expands to reach the goal of universal vouchers. The expense of the voucher provision hurts the funding available for pre-K students. The non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimated that giving vouchers to all pre-K students could cost the state between $6 and $10.5 million annually. The pre-K plan itself will cost the state $20 million annually. Clearly the money to be spent on vouchers would be better spent on raising the funding to help more pre-K students. Senate Bill 276 expands the pre-K program without the expensive baggage of expanding the K-12 voucher program. Let Senators know that you support their approach and oppose using the pre-K bill as a cover to further expand K-12 vouchers
It Could Have Been Worse The original language of HB 1004 as presented by Representative Behning would have changed the income caps for all 50% vouchers to include all families of four up to $89,900, significantly lifting the current cap of $67,000 which has been in place since the fundamental compromise struck in 2011 to pass the historic voucher bill. Before voting 9-4 to pass HB 1004, the committee approved Amendment 5 offered by Representative Ed DeLaney, who had detected this huge voucher expansion in the original language. Fortunately, Representative DeLaney's amendment was approved, keeping the rest of the voucher program under current rules while the debate about voucher eligibility for pre-K students proceeds. Representative DeLaney should be thanked for his excellent work on this point. Continuity Is Not Mentioned in the Bill Language Representative Behning, the HB 1004 sponsor, claimed that the reason for giving lifetime voucher eligibility to all students receiving pre-K grants is to allow continuity from private and religious pre-school programs to the private and religious kindergarten programs in the same school. His language in the bill, however, does not say that. It says nothing about continuity. It says a voucher will go to any student who has received a pre-K grant "at any time" if they meet the income guideline ($89,900). That is far more than a continuity rule. That is a pipeline to universal K-12 vouchers. The program has been running effectively and with the strong support of parents for the past two years without any link to a lifetime voucher. The current language says: "The receipt of a grant under the pilot program does not qualify, nor have an effect on the qualification or eligibility, of a child for a Choice Scholarship." Senator Kenley put this language in his 2014 bill that got Pre-K started in Indiana. There is no reason this language should be repealed to plunge the debate into an argument about the privatization of our public schools. We are already well behind other states in providing pre-K to young children. Representative Behning supports the Governor in asking for only a $10 million increase while asking for an attached K-12 voucher program that would cost $6 million to $10 million. Adding K-12 Vouchers to Pre-K Doesn't Make Sense in the Budget Contact Senators on the Education Committee by Wednesday February 8th, 1:30pm It is time to tell members Senate Education Committee listed above that you support SB 276 in its current language with no link to K-12 voucher expansion!
Let them know that it would be wrong to entwine a highly controversial and expensive expansion of the K-12 private school voucher program with the much needed pre-K program.
Let them know that you oppose the House pre-K bill (HB 1004) which makes expansion of pre-school part of the march to privatize public education in Indiana.
Let them know that you support Senate Bill 276 and that you would strongly oppose any attempt to add amendments to link it to K-12 Choice Scholarships.
Public schools, in spite of their dire financial conditions, would have no choice but to make cuts in other areas to establish preschools to compete in the marketplace that now exists in Indiana. Under policies established by Sections 20 and 21 in HB 1004, public schools would need to be prominent in the pre-K arena in order to get their share of incoming kindergarteners, or their future enrollment would be seriously eroded with all the funding consequences that would bring. Thank you for your dedicated support of public education! Best wishes, Vic Smith email@example.com