‘Precious Tax Dollars’: Idaho Senate Rejects School Choice Program Over Whopping $45 Million Cost

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Reagan Reese Contributor
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The Idaho Senate rejected a school choice bill on Monday that would give vouchers to students outside of the public school system.

In a 12-23 vote, the state senate killed Senate Bill 1038 which would have created a universal Education Savings Account (ESA) giving families a scholarship of nearly $6,000 to be used on private school and homeschooling costs. Those who rejected the bill argued it lacked accountability measures and would cause an “expansion of government,” according to Idaho Ed News. (RELATED: Oklahoma Is Set To Debut A First-Of-Its-Kind School Choice Program)

“It’s actually against my conservative Republican perspective to hand this money out with no accountability that these precious tax dollars are being used wisely, or that they’re actually going to increase the goodwill of the students of Idaho,” Republican Idaho Sen. Dave Lent,  Senate Education Committee chairman, said according to Idaho Ed News.

If the legislation was passed, in its first year K-12 2% of students were expected to receive a voucher costing the state nearly $45 million, the Idaho Ed News reported. Opponents argued that the bill was broad, lacked limitations on who was eligible for the funds and didn’t establish accountability precautions for homeschooling programs and private schools that would be accepting public funds.

Last year, the Idaho legislature created a school choice program which allows K-12 families making less than $60,000 apply for grants to cover costs related to the child’s education. The program set aside $30 million to cover costs.

“The fact that it’s universal I think makes it fair for everyone,” Republican Idaho Rep. Ben Toews said on Monday, according to the Idaho Press. “It’s opt-in, no one’s forced to take advantage of this.”

Lent and Toews did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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