(Guest Post by Jason Bedrick)
As regular Jayblog readers know, back in 2011, Brother Greg challenged WaPo’s Jay Mathews to a bet in response to the latter’s prediction that the school choice movement was petering out. Mathews accepted the challenge. Forster would win “if at least ten legislative chambers pass bills in 2011 that either create or expand a private school choice program.” Forster not only won in 2011, he has won in every year since. (For a few examples, see 2015 Part 1 / 2015 Part 2, 2016, and 2017. Note: I’m only including states that added a new program or increased appropriations or available tax credits for an existing program, not those, like Virginia, that only expanded eligibility.)
Here’s a brief list of the new and expanded programs signed into law this year:
- Arkansas: Tripled the appropriation for the Arkansas Succeeds voucher program for students with special needs or in foster care.
- Florida: New school voucher program for 18,000 low- and middle-income students that automatically grows by about 7,000 vouchers each year. $23 million additional funding for Gardiner education savings account program for students with special needs.
- Indiana: Increased the tax-credit scholarship program by $16.5 million over the biennium.
- Iowa: Increased the tax-credit scholarship program by $2 million over the biennium.
- Mississippi: Increased funding for the education savings account program by $2 million.
- Ohio: Increased funding for three voucher programs (the EdChoice Scholarships, the Income-Based Scholarships, and the Cleveland Scholarships) and expanded eligibility for two of them (EdChoice and Income-Based).
- Pennsylvania: $30 million increase in tax credits available for tax-credit scholarship programs.
- Tennessee: New school voucher program for low-income students in Davidson and Shelby counties.
Additionally, by my count, here are the states in which at least one legislative chamber passed a new or expanded school choice program:
- Arkansas (SB 539)
- North Carolina (HB 966)
- Oklahoma (SB 407)
- Utah (SB 177)
- West Virginia (SB 1040)
Let me know in the comment section if I missed any!
[Note: Updated on July 19 to include the recently signed Ohio expansion and updated July 25 to include the Arkansas expansion.]