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House Passage of Universal Voucher Bill Has Critics Speaking Out

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Photo: Caleb Oquendo via Pexels  |  Columbia County Observer graphic

FLORIDA – Today, three organizations that oppose legislation that would create a universal voucher and education savings account program, released statements following the Florida House's passage House Bill, HB 1.

Sadif Knight - Florida Policy InstituteSadaf Knight, CEO of Florida Policy Institute, said: “It is alarming that the Florida House passed HB 1 without any guardrails to mitigate the unprecedented cost and impact this legislation would have on our public schools."

“We are dismayed that it passed without fully accounting for the true potential cost of this expansion. Our analysis has shown that the projected $4 billion price tag for universal vouchers would hurt our schools, our communities, and, most importantly, our children.

“As the companion bill, SB 202, heads to a floor vote, we urge the Senate to carefully consider the impact on Florida’s public schools. As we have noted before, the only other state to pass a similar universal voucher bill, Arizona, has seen the cost of its program skyrocket well past initial estimates. Florida public schools cannot afford to have their budgets decimated after years of under-investment. Before passing a bill that would pay over $8,000 per child to wealthy families as a discount for pricey private school tuition, the Senate should include growth caps, income limits, and appropriate funding for the program outside of the traditional funding for public schools. The Senate should also adopt measures to ensure transparency and accountability in the program.”

Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing state policies and budgets that improve the economic mobility and quality of life for all Floridians.

Melissa Erickson-Alliance for Public SchoolsMelissa Erickson, executive director of the Alliance for Public Schools, said: "Florida families want politicians to be fiscally responsible with our tax dollars. Overwhelmingly, families choose public schools for their children, so lawmakers who support educational choice must honor that by protecting the funding of traditional public schools. Allowing precious funding for public schools to be put at risk ignores the choice of most of Florida's families." 

Alliance for Public Schools was founded by parents and community members who believe public education must be a shared community value and priority worthy of investment. The organization champions meaningful engagement in support of students, educators, and public schools and advocates for increased funding and policies that promote student success.

Damaris Allen - Families For Strong Public SchoolsDamaris Allen, executive director of Families for Strong Public Schools, said:  "As a public school parent and the executive director of Families for Strong Public Schools, I am incredibly disappointed in the passing of HB 1. For years we have watched our legislators chip away at their investment in our public schools, where the majority of our students chose to attend, and divert crucial taxpayer dollars to unregulated, often unaccredited private schools. HB 1 is a massive tax rebate for the rich veiled as school choice and will cost Florida $4 billion in the first year."

Families for Strong Public Schools is dedicated to centering students in education policy by unifying, educating, and empowering parents to support a strong public education agenda at all levels of government.

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