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Private school voucher bill scaled back again to woo Senate

by John Kennedy | April 9th, 2014

A measure beefing-up the state’s private school voucher program launched under former Gov. Jeb Bush was reworked again Wednesday by the House in a bid to reach accord with a resistent Senate.

The legislation (HB 7167) was amended by House sponsor Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Miami, to eliminate a proposed expansion of the dollar caps that limit the growth of the program.

The bill now maintains the current caps that allow annual 25 percent increases from the current $286 million in tax credits, which pays for almost 60,000 low-income students to attend 1,400, mostly faith-based private schools.

Facing earlier opposition, Diaz has already dropped an initial plan to allow companies to steer a portion of their state sales-tax obligation to the program.

The Tax Credit Scholarship Program, created in 2002, gives corporations dollar-for-dollar tax credits for donations they make to finance private school scholarships for children from low-income households.

While scaled-back, the House proposal does continue to expand the pool of students who could be eligible for taxpayer scholarships. House Republicans also beat back Democratic efforts to require that these private-school students undergo standardized testing like that in public schools.

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has said he won’t go along with any expansion for the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program without a testing provision — and his son, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, broke party ranks to join Democrats in those losing votes on the House floor.

The younger Gaetz’s stand may signal that the bill still faces a stern test in the Senate, which earlier dropped any plans to consider an expansion bill unless mandatory testing was included.

Rep. Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, defended maintaining a distinction between the taxpayer-funded private school students and those who go to public schools.

“Why would we want to make it look just like the school that didn’t work for these children?” Adkins said.

While close to 60,000 students received scholarships this year, demand is much greater, with almost 94,000 applications made by families, according to Step Up for Students, the Tampa-based nonprofit which administers the program.

The nonprofit also says scholarship students are subject to testing, with most taking Stanford Achievement tests at private schools.

Step Up for Students, this year can collect 3 percent for administrative costs, or $8.6 million. And with the program on pace to spend $873.6 million by 2018, Step Up for Students would be poised to collect $26.2 million that year for office costs and salaries – an amount ridiculed Wednesday by Democrats.

 

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11 Responses to “Private school voucher bill scaled back again to woo Senate”

  1. Macontherock Says:

    I am always amazed at the lack if urgency to raise the bar on public education. The senate is lead by RINO Republican who unfortunately learned his politically correct ways had a superintendent who raised taxes in his county. School is about creativity and teachers who can compete with each other to perfect their craft. It has very little to do with testing. It has a lot more to do with reading skills they are not receiving in masse. Only the brightest students in stable home environment get a good education. Any creative way for the private sector to contribute directly to a low income family to get a head start should be deterred in anyway. As a republican in Florida must remind you their was time in the recent past we did not have a majority since the Reconstruction. Stop cow towing to liberals who have failed America with their liberal arts agenda and unions. Work quietly 20-20 ties in the Florida senate votes is shameful. Amend the un-American 2004 teachers empowerment law. Make it a parent empowerment law as it was intended to be.

  2. Step Up - Fall Down Says:

    Yet another entitlement program that people think gives them the opportunity for a “better education” at a “PRIVATE” school. Most private schools are “faith based” which is nice, so you can be taught the difference between right & wrong, good & bad. Smaller classes…nice…HOWEVER…having had 3 children in a “PRIVATE SCHOOL” from pre-k – onward for for more than 12 years & paying “FULL” Tuition with an IN-Parish tuition rate, because of the $1200.00 required by the parish on top of $6000.00 tuition yearly, I was surprised when I transferred my straight A & B middle school age child to a public school & they were totally failing in math. Writing skills were not much better. Just because you pay, doesn’t mean you are getting superior education! Also it is pretty obvious that the “FULL” tuition paying parents have gotten fed up with all the voucher children coming in for free, so now pretty much “Private” schools are full of voucher kids so the “PRIVATE” schools can boast how “UP” their enrollment is!

  3. MacontheRock Says:

    REPOST to fix cellphone typos:

    I am always amazed at the lack if urgency to raise the bar on public education. The senate is lead by RINO Republican who unfortunately learned his politically correct ways had a superintendent who raised taxes in his county. School is about creativity and teachers who can compete with one another to perfect their craft. It has very little to do with testing. It has a lot more to do with reading skills These skills apparently not receiving in mass. Only the brightest students in stable home environment get a good education. Any creative way for the private sector to contribute directly to a low income family to get a head start should NOT be deterred in anyway. As a republican in Florida must I remind you their was time in the recent past, we did not have a majority since the Reconstruction. Stop cow towing to liberals who have failed America with their liberal arts agenda and teacher’s unions. Work quickly and assertively on principles alone. Reinvent public school not reform it. 20-20 ties in the Florida senate votes is shameful. Amend the un-American 2004 teachers empowerment law. Make it a parent empowerment law as it was intended to be.

  4. Registered independent Says:

    I love religious people who thing the republicans are on their “side” as if there were such a thing. The only thing they care about is their real God – $. They take your votes and laugh at you for putting them in office. They act against your interest every chance they get. Notice your house insurance, car insurance, FPL? You are a tool to them.

  5. Rick Scott is thief Says:

    Nothing but a plan by Republicans hatched years ago to destroy the public school system and privatize it so they can steal the tax dollars – that the plan lives on today is another example of Republican greed

  6. Nemo Says:

    Don’t people realize the subtle/covert racism and classism that exists in these private schools? Why would low income (mostly minority)parents want to send there children into this environment?

  7. Half Pint (Real One) Says:

    Where the F*** do you get your info?! You come moseying in here with your spurs just a jangling and you want to sell me some sort of snake oil? Well guess what sister?! Homey don’t play dat! My bologna has not one, but 2 names Chief! I’ve got a hankering for a hunk of knowledge and you aint the one to fly me to the moon! You sir, need to take your nerf ball and fruit by the foot and GTFO! Wellington is the place to be to get some white trash strange.

    As good ol’ Ben Franklin used to say: “I’m freshly shorn, naval_to_anus”

  8. Lars Says:

    Well hello there everyone! I know what you are all thinking, “Where has Lars been?”. I had been away enjoying the sites of Southeast Asia and am finally back home in my quaint little bungalow here in downtown Lake Worth.
    I had a minor set-back in Thailand courtesy of a young Phillipino boy, but it turned out he was more of a man if you know what I mean. Long story short, but he somehow managed to puncture my lower intestine after a particular magical evening of lovemaking. (Don’t worry fellas, doctors gave me the all-clear, so my pink “love pocket” is back open for business).

    On a darker note, my heart has been hurting for someone (even though my love pocket had been hurt to make up for the pain in my heart). Obiwan, if you are reading this (like most of Palm Beach County is right now) please come back. I crave your touch and want to feel you inside of me (if you know what I mean). This bungalow hasn’t been the same since you stormed out of here because your little soldier wouldn’t stand at attention after setting up the sling you bought me. Please come home soon dear.

  9. Lars Says:

    To Obiwan :

    Here is a poem I wrote just for you….

    The first of the undecoded messages read: “Popeye sits
    in thunder,
    Unthought of. From that shoebox of an apartment,
    From livid curtain’s hue, a tangram emerges: a country.”
    Meanwhile the Sea Hag was relaxing on a green couch: “How
    pleasant
    To spend one’s vacation en la casa de Popeye,” she
    scratched
    Her cleft chin’s solitary hair. She remembered spinach

    And was going to ask Wimpy if he had bought any spinach.
    “M’love,” he intercepted, “the plains are decked out
    in thunder
    Today, and it shall be as you wish.” He scratched
    The part of his head under his hat. The apartment
    Seemed to grow smaller. “But what if no pleasant
    Inspiration plunge us now to the stars? For this is my
    country.”

    Suddenly they remembered how it was cheaper in the country.
    Wimpy was thoughtfully cutting open a number 2 can of spinach
    When the door opened and Swee’pea crept in. “How pleasant!”
    But Swee’pea looked morose. A note was pinned to his bib.
    “Thunder
    And tears are unavailing,” it read. “Henceforth shall
    Popeye’s apartment
    Be but remembered space, toxic or salubrious, whole or
    scratched.”

    Olive came hurtling through the window; its geraniums scratched
    Her long thigh. “I have news!” she gasped. “Popeye, forced as
    you know to flee the country
    One musty gusty evening, by the schemes of his wizened,
    duplicate father, jealous of the apartment
    And all that it contains, myself and spinach
    In particular, heaves bolts of loving thunder
    At his own astonished becoming, rupturing the pleasant

    Arpeggio of our years. No more shall pleasant
    Rays of the sun refresh your sense of growing old, nor the
    scratched
    Tree-trunks and mossy foliage, only immaculate darkness and
    thunder.”
    She grabbed Swee’pea. “I’m taking the brat to the country.”
    “But you can’t do that–he hasn’t even finished his spinach,”
    Urged the Sea Hag, looking fearfully around at the apartment.

    But Olive was already out of earshot. Now the apartment
    Succumbed to a strange new hush. “Actually it’s quite pleasant
    Here,” thought the Sea Hag. “If this is all we need fear from
    spinach
    Then I don’t mind so much. Perhaps we could invite Alice the Goon
    over”–she scratched
    One dug pensively–”but Wimpy is such a country
    Bumpkin, always burping like that.” Minute at first, the thunder

    Soon filled the apartment. It was domestic thunder,
    The color of spinach. Popeye chuckled and scratched
    His balls: it sure was pleasant to spend a day in the country.

    I love you Obiwan!!

  10. Steve Dave Says:

    Lars,

    I addressing this message to you as a concerned citizen and a man who understands lost love. First of all let me say; That poem was one of the most heart felt things I ever read. It literately brought tears to my eyes! It defined what kind of love only a man can have for another man. Beautiful simply Beautiful! Now, on to the concerned citizen portion; Why would you throw yourself at someone who clearly doesn’t respect or appreciate you? Move on man! its over. That is what I did and you know what? I’m a better man for it. I knew it was over for me when he only wanted to do “it” from behind, wanna know why? because he was imagining I was someone else. I didn’t deserve that and neither should you! Now get out there and have at it! Also, if you need some places to troll locally, hit me up.

    God speed my brother…..God speed.

  11. Regular Joe Says:

    Look, I may be an old school guy, but I am getting darn near sick and tired of all these nancy-boys parading their wears for everyone to see. Look, I get up in the morning, fetch my lunch pail and container of coffee, and head to the job site, so I am just a regular red-blooded guy that likes me some lady-parts. This guy Lars that is in love with some OB/GYN, makes my stomach turn. But what do I know, I work my 40 hours, head home to the old lady and watch a couple episodes of Mannix and call it a night.

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