Under the Dome

Private school scholarships bill fails

A plan to give tax breaks to corporations for donations to private school scholarships failed in a tie committee vote Thursday morning. But the bill may still have life.

The proposal, backed by House Majority Leader Paul Stam, would offer dollor-for-dollar tax credits to corporations who give to private school scholarships. The scholarships would be for students moving from public to private schools or entering kindergarteners.

Critics dubbed it a voucher plan that diverts tax revenue that public schools need to private schools.  Supporters said it would give students options to move out of public schools that didn't meet their needs.

Stam said it would end up saving public schools money, which Democratic members of the House Finance Committee said was false.

The proposal has divided the GOP House caucus. Several veteran House Republicans, including Finance Committee co-chairmen Mitch Setzer and Julia Howard voted against the bill. Other Republican House members were absent from the early-morning meeting.

Intent on keeping the proposal alive, Stam used a procedural maneuver that would allow him to bring it to a vote of the full House.

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