$1.3 million appropriation would expand voucher program

The Joint Budget Committee adopted an amendment last week to expand the appropriation for a special needs voucher program. An earlier version of the appropriation bill for the state Department of Education called for $800,000 to fund the Succeed Scholarship program for the 2017-18 school year, the same amount of money for the program that was appropriated in the 2016 fiscal session of the General Assembly. The amended version increases the appropriation to $1.3 million.

Voucher-like bill passes with ease in Senate

A controversial bill that would establish education savings accounts to be used at parents' discretion to fund private school and other education costs passed in a 22-5 vote in the Arkansas Senate Tuesday. Senate Bill 746 and its predecessor, House Bill 1222, have a long list of opponents. The legislation was initially opposed by Governor Hutchinson because of its potential cost, but he later said he supported it after HB 1222 was amended to cap the growth of the program. HB 1222 failed in the House last Thursday after passionate testimony from representatives who said the bill would negatively impact public school districts they represent. That same day, SB 746 was amended to mirror the failed legislation.

Choice bill fails in the House

A bill that would establish education savings accounts to be used at parents' discretion to fund private school and other education costs failed to pass in a 35-45 vote in the House Thursday.