(Guest post by Greg Forster)
Yesterday, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a budget bill that contained a $2.5 million school choice program. It’s a tax-credit scholarship program that will serve a couple thousand students.
So much for the negative nabobs who think school choice can’t win! No matter how many times it wins, they just keep sticking their fingers in their ears.
There are some eligibility restrictions, but they’re not as bad as the ones on the “legacy” programs in Milwaukee and DC that are restricted to the poor. This program is more in the mold of existing tax-credit scholarship programs in places like Pennsylvania, which include moderate-income families – in Indiana, the eligibility is set at 200% of the cutoff for free and reduced lunch programs. Also, like the program in Florida, Indiana’s program is limited to students who were in public school the previous year.
This means that the program isn’t ideal, but will be much easier to defend against union chicanery than the highly vulnerable “legacy” programs, which don’t provide much benefit to powerful constituencies able to mobilize and preserve the program. Indiana’s program isn’t leading us toward universal choice the way Georgia’s is, where a universal voucher bill is moving through the legislature. But it’s maintaining the gains school choice has made in the last five years, as the movement has moved toward more and more universal choice.