TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A sweeping Republican education bill passed the Florida Senate Education Appropriations Subcommittee Tuesday, the latest stop on its fast track to the chamber's floor.
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Here's what you need to know about the proposal:
1) What does the school voucher expansion proposal entail?
It would create a new voucher program that, unlike the current Florida Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program, would be funded with state revenues. In 2006, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that such a scheme is unconstitutional because it uses tax dollars to pay for a "parallel" system of education.
2) What has changed since the 2006 ruling?
The makeup of the court. In January, Gov. Ron DeSantis -- a voucher expansion proponent -- replaced the three retiring members of the Supreme Court's liberal wing with conservative jurists who could be far less likely to invalidate the current proposal, should it become law.
3) What are critics doing to prevent the legislation from passing?
Public school advocates are traveling to Tallahassee on a weekly basis, pleading with legislative committees to reconsider the proposal. They argue it would divert funding for public schools to private institutions, leaving campuses with even fewer resources to deliver a quality education.
4) Will critics be successful?
It's doubtful they will. The voucher expansion measure has been passing committees on party line votes, and because Republicans hold solid majorities in the House and Senate, passage is very likely. Gov. DeSantis would almost certainly sign it into law.
5) If the proposal does become law, will a legal challenge be filed?
The state teacher union has suggested it would challenge the voucher expansion scheme. While it could cost the state significant dollars to defend it, the governor and legislative leaders could find a friendly Supreme Court inclined to rule against the union.