Saturday, July 20, 2024

Louisiana lawmakers pass education savings account bill

by BIZ Magazine

(The Center Square) — Louisiana lawmakers sent a bill that would create an education savings account program to Gov. Jeff Landry’s desk this week and the first-term Republican says he plans to sign it into law.

The Senate concurred with the changes made by the House by a 23-14 vote Thursday.

In a post to X, Landry said “I made a pledge to enact bold change that improves our education system. Today, with the legislature’s help, we did just that. The LA Gator Scholarship puts parents in the driver’s seat and gives every child the opportunity for a great education.

“Thank you to @RickEdmondsLA and @JulieEmerson for your hard work and perseverance in passing this historic legislation. I look forward to signing this bill into law!”

Senate Bill 313 is sponsored by Sen. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge, and would create the Louisiana Giving All True Opportunity to Rise program, which would allocate the state per-student cost plus a special education weight of 150% for those children to parents for qualifying education expenses such as tuition.

Under the bill, the LA GATOR funds would have to be separate from the state’s constitutionally-mandated K-12 funding formula, the Minimum Foundation Program. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education would also have to craft and enact rules if the bill is signed into law.

SB 313 would replace an existing voucher program for students in failing schools with a universal program in a three-phase program, covering those in poverty and with a disability first before extending to all students.

Also praising the bill’s passage was former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a statement. Bush signed into law Florida’s first school choice program in 1999 and is the founder and chairman of ExcelinEd in Action, a pro-school choice nonprofit.

“Louisiana has taken a bold step to reform education, empowering families with choice and providing transformative opportunities to all students, with a focus on those with the highest needs,” Bush said. “I extend my appreciation to Gov. Jeff Landry, Rep. Laurie Schlegel, Rep. Julie Emerson, Rep. Rhonda Butler, Sen. Beth Mizell, Sen. Rick Edmonds and the entire Legislature for their commitment to Louisiana families and parental choice.

“By ensuring every student has access to the school and resources they need to achieve their full potential, these bold leaders are taking a significant step to individualizing education and positioning a generation of children for future success.”

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