Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007


Gov Signs HB 1: The Potential Impact of Universal Vouchers is a “Looming Risk to Florida”

School Bus with headline: Gov Signs HB 1: the potential impact of universal vouchers is a "looming risk to Florida"
Photo: UnratedStudio via Pixabay | Columbia County Observer graphic

Yesterday, Governor DeSantis signed HB 1 into law. HB 1 expands Florida’s school choice program to all students. It removes all eligibility caps, creating universal school vouchers and education savings accounts.

At a time when our K-12 schools are already severely underfunded, the governor approved a program that will reroute billions in education funding from public education to unaccountable private schools. 

A well-resourced and supported public education system is the cornerstone of a free, thriving democracy. This is why in 1998, Florida voters resoundingly supported an amendment to our state constitution, declaring it a "paramount duty of the state" and a "fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida.”

By opening up the floodgates of funding to private education, including by giving vouchers to the wealthiest families in the state, HB 1 presents a significant long-term risk to the funding for our public schools, which currently educate 87 percent of K-12 students in Florida. It is our “paramount duty” to continue shining a light on this program's potential costs and the risks it poses to our public education system.

Instead of pumping the brakes on a program we project will cost $4 billion in the first year of implementation, legislators fast-tracked universal vouchers. The potential impact on our state's public education funding — the bedrock for our communities, economy, and children's futures — is a looming risk to Florida.

FPI will continue to analyze and communicate the fiscal impacts of HB 1 in the years to come so that Floridians can hold policymakers accountable for any cuts to public schools that may result from the universal voucher program.

Sadaf Knight  has over 12 years of experience in public policy research, advocacy and nonprofit management. She is CEO of Florida Policy Institute

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.

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