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General Assembly

Voucher growth clears committee

– The Indiana House Education Committee signed off Thursday on a large expansion of the Republican-backed school voucher system.

The measure would remove a one-year waiting period students have to spend in public school before qualifying for a voucher and qualify wealthier families for the program in certain cases. In some cases, it would allow a family of four earning up to roughly $128,000 to qualify for a batch of vouchers that cover 50 percent of the cost of schooling.

The panel voted 9-3 Thursday afternoon to send the measure to the full House of Representatives.

The vote split along party lines just as the issue has for much of the last two years.

Gov. Mike Pence announced this week he was supporting the bill and it has the backing of the Republican leadership in the House. But the prospects of an expanded voucher system passing the Senate this year aren’t clear.

At the heart of the battle is whether state dollars are spent on private or public schools.

In one exchange, Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, and House Education Chairman Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, scrapped over whether raising the amount of each voucher would become a handout for private schools.

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