Voucher bill strengthens what critics call taxpayer-funded monopoly for GOP-connected nonprofitby John Kennedy | March 17th, 2014
A proposal expanding private school vouchers in Florida could pour millions of dollars into a politically connected nonprofit, creating what a rising chorus of Democrats, public school officials and business rivals are condemning as a taxpayer-financed monopoly.
Step Up for Students, which administers the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program created under former Gov. Jeb Bush, could more than triple the amount of money it collects under voucher legislation that Republican leaders are terming a priority this session.
The bill makes the scholarship program eligible for sales tax money for the first time in its 12-year history. With the new cash, the 60,000 students now getting private-school scholarships could double in four years, rivaling the size of larger public school districts in Florida.
While Republicans are rallying around the expansion, the proposal also is drawing fierce critics.
“The issue is not simply an argument between public schools and private schools and vouchers,” said Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach. “It’s an outrageous amount of taxpayer money that is involved here.”
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