Testimony on a proposed expansion of state-funded pre-kindergarten took center stage Wednesday at the Statehouse. Many of those who testified were in favor of heavier investment into pre-k. Some, including the Indiana State Teacher’s Association called for removal of measures involving school vouchers. ISTA Public Education Advocacy Coordinator Roni Embry argued that some language amounts to a voucher expansion, which would be "fiscally irresponsible."
During his closing statement in the Senate Chamber, Representative Bob Behning (R-91) attempted to clarify some of the discussions about voucher provisions in House Bill 1004. "I think there’s been a lot of misinformation from some of the people that came up and testified. Where they would say that this opens it up to lifetime voucher access. This does not open it up. If the income level continues to be eligible as current law says, in terms of income eligibility, that’s all it does. It does not expand anymore," he said.
"We do not support the voucher expansion," Embry said. "Many of our public schools have seen cuts through the last few years. The economy has not been good and to put more money into the voucher system at this point in time — we know the vouchers are not going to go away — but we do not see that that’s being fiscally responsible to do so."
HB 1004 is being sponsored in the Senate by Senator Jeff Raatz (R-27). It recently cleared the House by a vote of 61-34. The Senate’s bill dealing with pre-k expansion, SB 276, currently calls for a considerably smaller scope than Governor Eric Holcomb, the Indiana Chamber and several members of the business community have targeted.
During his closing statement in the Senate Chamber, Representative Bob Behning (R-91) attempted to clarify some of the discussions about voucher provisions in House Bill 1004.