Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Friday that he will allow the passage of a state budget that includes funding for universal school vouchers.
The budget allows for $3,200 to $7,500 per child, weighing income and other factors, to cover the cost of tuition for a school of their parent’s choice and would increase total funding for the program each year, eventually amounting to $520 million by 2032, according to The 74 Million. Cooper decided to allow the funding to pass without his signature in order to expand Medicaid for “people who are crying for help,” according to the press release. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Students Join Campaign To Urge GOP Presidential Candidates To Prioritize Federal School Choice)
“Make no mistake, overall this is a bad budget that seriously shortchanges our schools, prioritizes power grabs, keeps shady backroom deals secret and blatantly violates the constitution, and many of its provisions will face legal action,” Cooper said, according to the press release. “However, we must recognize this irresponsible legislature’s decade of refusal to expand Medicaid, which has caused life and death situations for so many North Carolinians and threatened the very existence of numerous rural hospitals. I will not allow people who are crying for help to wait any longer, so I am directing our Department of Health and Human Services to begin today the process for expanding Medicaid while allowing this budget to become law without my signature.”
Gov. Cooper Statement on passage of state budget and Medicaid Expansion: pic.twitter.com/Efqg0zvrnq
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) September 22, 2023
State House Republicans introduced the legislation for the voucher program in April, which makes all students eligible to obtain funding for up to 45% of the average cost of private schools. Students who are a part of the state’s free or reduced lunch program are first in line to receive funding and use the money for tuition, transportation and curriculum or material expenses.
Cooper claimed in May that the funding would put the North Carolina education system in a state of emergency and that passing the funding for the voucher program would mean that “anyone – even a millionaire” could use taxpayer funding to help their child go to a private school, which he claimed would hurt rural and underprivileged communities the most.
The budget’s passage makes North Carolina the ninth state to approve a universal school choice voucher program, according to The 74 Million. Mary Ann Wolf, president and executive director of Public School Forum, however, argued that the funding should have gone to teachers, who they argue are not making a “livable wage.”
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