The House K 12 education budget committee passed out a Frankenstein voucher bill today, it is house substitute for Senate Bill 83. You may recall last week, the hearing or the committee held a hearing and name only on Senate Bill 83. And the committee chair announced her intentions to not actually work the original contents of the bill, but instead to get them today. She did exactly that. The committee came in today, gutted out the contents of Senate Bill 83, and replaced them with the education savings account bill and proceeded to offer a number of amendments to the bill. The underlying voucher bill is the same as education savings accounts bill that as was contained in House Bill 2218. As amended. So it includes a phased in approach. Over four years starting school year 2024 2025. By the end of the four years, they have increased the income eligibility to 600%. above the poverty line. In addition to making some changes to the actual education, savings accounts, pieces, these were technical amendments, they also added amendments that were pretty nefarious, they added special education funding, at least the first year, as the Governor has proposed. And then they also added an amendment that they called a teacher pay increase. What is important to note about this second amendment is that there was never a standalone bill for this policy. So they never had a hearing on it. There was never public input offered on it. And
it has now been offered and added to the bill. And if we had had the opportunity to submit testimony, we would have been
in opposition to this amendment because it requires the pay increase to be offered outside of bargaining and negotiations. And it undermines the locally negotiated contract. But what's important about knowing about this process, and the political maneuvering that we saw today is it's clear that there isn't the support for the underlying voucher bill. And so they have to bundle it with policy that they think will be enough to garner support to get the entire bill across the finish line. It is important to know that these are the kinds of games that are being played. And they are setting it up for what we often call gotcha votes. And this means that they will put in they set it up even in committee as you know a motion to increase teacher pay, and made it look like the minority members of the or the minority party members of the committee who were voting against it because they knew it was undermining locally negotiated contracts.
looked bad. They they made it look like they were voting against increasing teacher pay. We know otherwise. But it's important for everybody else to know that as well. So they're setting up these quote unquote, gotcha votes so that when it gets to the floor, and they don't have the support, and people vote against it, those who support the voucher bill will then turn around and say, Look, these legislators voted against special ed funding. They voted against teacher pay, increasing teacher pay, and so on and so forth. So this is this is all political maneuvering. And again, it's clear that they don't have the support for the underlying voucher bill, because as we all know, it is policy that is wildly unpopular.
So that's where we are today. The bill has passed out of committee, so it will now go to the House floor for consideration at a later date.