Each month, the EdChoice policy team breaks down into bite-sized pieces all the past month’s educational choice-related legislative movement. New Hampshire and Wisconsin each advanced educational freedom and choice for families. Several other states may follow suit as legislative sessions wind down.
This month, NH Gov. Sununu signed HB 367 into law, expanding the eligibility of the state’s Education Freedom Account (EFA) program to include students from families earning up to 350 percent of the federal poverty line (up from 300 percent). Now, any student from a family of four making up to approximately $97,000 annually may participate. The EFA program is an education savings account program offering participating families about $4,700 a year for qualifying educational expenses.
HB 823, a bill that would expand the state’s Opportunity Scholarships voucher program to universal eligibility, passed the House in May. Voucher amounts are based on family income, and range from approximately $3,200 to $7,200. Currently, enough lawmakers in both chambers are signed on to the bill to override a potential veto by Gov. Roy Cooper. The Senate companion bill is S 406 and it is expected to receive a vote in July.
In June, Ohio’s Senate passed a version of the budget incorporating SB 11, expanding eligibility for the Educational Choice Scholarship (voucher) program to universal eligibility. It was signed into law on July 4, 2023. Participating K-8 students are eligible for up to a $5,500 voucher, and participating high school students are eligible for a $7,500 voucher.
In June, Pennsylvania lawmakers introduced SB 795 and companion HB 1432, which would create a targeted ESA known as the Lifeline Scholarship Program. The proposal is supported by Gov. Josh Shapiro. The Lifeline Scholarship program would offer scholarships of $2,500 to half-day Kindergarten, $5,000 to K-8 students, $10,000 to high schoolers, and $15,000 to students with special needs. Lifeline, as well as increases to the Tax Credit Scholarship programs, could be incorporated into the state budget.
A nearly universal ESA proposal, SB 8, would offer scholarships in the amount of $8,000 to participating students. The Senate passed the bill in April but did not receive a final vote in the House during regular session. Gov. Abbott has announced his plans to take it to a special session this year so further action could still take place in 2023.
In June, Wisconsin Speaker of the House Robin Vos, and Governor Tony Evers, agreed to increase funding for the Parental Choice (Voucher) Program through the state budget, SB 330. Under the new structure, scholarships for K-8 students will increase to $9,499, and K-12 vouchers will expand up to $12,000 per student. Wisconsin’s voucher program will now offer families a 73% per pupil value as a percentage of public school per-student spending.