INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence enthusiastically approved legislation Thursday loosening a requirement that students attend public school for at least one year to qualify for a private school voucher.
The Republican signed into law House Enrolled Act 1003 as dozens of children looked on at Indianapolis' Calvary Christian School.
"Our Hoosier students deserve every opportunity to be successful. That includes having the choice to attend the school that works best for them," Pence said. "Thanks to this legislation, Hoosier students and their families now have more educational options available to meet their individual needs."
The new law allows disabled students, children whose local public school is rated "F" by the state, or students with a sibling currently attending private school using a voucher to immediately qualify for a voucher without first attending public school.
Newly eligible students still must have family incomes below $43,568 for a family of four to obtain the maximum voucher of $4,500 for grades one through eight, and $3,852 for high school. The income limits are slightly higher for families of disabled students.
In addition, kindergarten attendance at a public school will now count for voucher eligibility purposes.
An estimated 15,000 students, up from 9,000 this year, are expected to attend Indiana private schools using vouchers by 2015.
Every Northwest Indiana lawmaker voted against the voucher expansion plan except state Reps. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, and Doug Gutwein, R-Francesville; and state Sen. Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek.