'Universal School Choice' Bill Sent to DeSantis' Desk

'Universal School Choice' Bill Sent to DeSantis' Desk

Jackson Bakich
Jackson Bakich
March 23, 2023

With Republicans in the Florida Legislature having a supermajority in both chambers, House Bill 1 – the legislation measure coined the “universal school choice” bill – was sent to Governor Ron DeSantis’ (R-FL) desk.

“HB 1 expands school choice to all 2.9 million school-aged children, regardless of race, income, background, or zip code, while prioritizing low-income, then middle-income students. The bill unlocks universal school choice for every Florida student, empowering parents and students with customizable learning options to boost outcomes and create competition in education across the state,” stated Speaker of the State House, Paul Renner (R-FL).

According to WFTS, the bill will allow individual students to use state funds to pay for private tuition as well as a plethora of other resources.

“HB1 strips the low-income requirements from the Family Empowerment Scholarship, allowing any public school-eligible student to apply. Low-income families still get priority, however. Families homeschooling can also get a slice of state dollars as well for things like online lessons or private tutoring,” the station reported.

The news of the bill’s passing – reported by Andrew Atterbury of PoliticoFL, stated that Democrats made every effort to point out the legislation’s cost that could “hinder the budgets of public schools.”

“During session, Democrats have attempted to hammer the point that this bill could be an expensive boondoggle for Florida that may ultimately hinder the budgets of public schools. They called the bill an ‘experiment,’” stated Atterbury.

Atterbury also reported that the chambers failed to reach a number of compromises in terms of allotment for the budget of the bill, with the two chambers nearly $150 million apart in proposal numbers.

"Lawmakers in both chambers, acknowledging critics, want to set aside millions in reserves in case more students flock to the expanded voucher program. There is a wide gap, though, in how much money: $109.7M proposed in the House budget compared to $350M for the Senate," stated Atterbury.

Governor DeSantis is expected to sign the bill.

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Jackson Bakich

Jackson Bakich

Born in Orlando but raised in Lake County, Florida, Jackson Bakich is currently a junior at Florida State University. Growing up in the sunshine state, Bakich co-hosted the political talk radio show "Lake County Roundtable" (WLBE), and was a frequent guest for "Lake County Sports Show" (WQBQ). Currently, he is the co-host of "Tomahawk Talk" (WVFS), a sports talk radio program covering Florida State athletics in Tallahassee.

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