Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a piece of legislation into law on Monday creating a universal school choice program.
House Bill 1, sponsored by the Education Quality Subcommittee, establishes an Education Savings Accounts (ESA) program under which every family is eligible to receive up to $8,000 to cover education expenses outside of the public school system. The vouchers will be distributed on a “priority” basis, with families of four making less than $51,000 annually receiving the funds first. (RELATED: The School Choice Movement Is Picking Up Steam Across The Country)
“The state of Florida is number one when it comes to education freedom and education choice,” DeSantis said at a Monday press conference. “Today’s bill signing cements us in that number one position because we will be signing legislation which will represent the largest expansion of education choice not just in the history of this state, but in the history of these United States.”
Under the law, students who are “residents of the state” or “eligible to enroll in kindergarten through grade 12” are eligible for the tax-payer funded voucher.
Gov. DeSantis Signs School Choice Legislation https://t.co/WMWAs96csy
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) March 27, 2023
Florida’s previous school choice program was limited to low-income families and students with disabilities, which 1.3 million students utilized. Students were on a waitlist for the previous program, according to the Florida Voice.
With DeSantis’ signature, Florida became the sixth state in the last two years to move to universal school choice; Arizona first enacted universal school choice making all K-12 students eligible for state funded vouchers. On March 8, Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders signed a piece of legislation into law creating a universal school choice program by the 2025-2026 school year.
“With the governor’s support and signature today, Florida delivers the largest expansion of education freedom in our nation’s history and that is something we should all be proud about,” Florida Republican House Speaker Paul Renner said at the press conference.
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