Trouble ahead for plan giving school vouchers to siblings

2013-01-09T19:00:00Z 2013-01-09T19:25:05Z Trouble ahead for plan giving school vouchers to siblingsBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
January 09, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | A top Senate Republican appeared ready Wednesday to kill legislation intended to increase the availability of private school vouchers.

Senate Bill 184, sponsored by state Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury, allows siblings of students already attending private school on a taxpayer-funded tuition voucher to skip the required one year of public school attendance needed to qualify for their own voucher.

Yoder said his plan is "family friendly" because it eliminates the need for low-income parents to drive their children to multiple schools twice a day.

"It's asinine in my mind to think they can afford to send their children to two different schools," Yoder said.

But state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said Yoder's plan may be unconstitutional, and in any case upends the point of the voucher program, which he said is to give students from low-income families who find public school isn't for them the same opportunity to attend private school as high-income earners.

"We passed the original voucher bill under the idea that public school is the first choice," Kenley said. "We're breaking down that system for the convenience of a family?"

Yoder said yes.

Unfortunately for Yoder, even if his proposal is approved next week by the Senate Education Committee, it also must be approved by the Appropriations Committee because it spends state money.

Kenley, the Appropriations chairman, smiled knowingly when Yoder was told Kenley would determine the fate of his legislation.

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