February 16, 2023

Senate Bill 202 Would Decimate Florida's Public School System

We strongly oppose SB 202, legislation that would create a universal voucher program in Florida at the expense of public education. Under this bill, we estimate that the cost of Florida’s Family Empowerment Scholarship voucher program would skyrocket to roughly $4 billion in the first year of implementation, a projection that mirrors FPI and Education Law Center’s (ELC’s) analysis of a similar bill, HB 1, which was recently introduced in the Florida House. Both bills would fund the universal voucher program by diverting state school aid from school districts’ budgets to private schools with little transparency or oversight.

Like HB 1, SB 202 would make two new groups eligible for voucher scholarships: families with income over 375 percent of the poverty level ($112,500 for a family of four) and home-school families. There would be no requirement that these students were ever enrolled in public schools.

A recent report by FPI and ELC examined Florida’s massive expansion of its voucher program in 2021, and found that 10 percent of total state school aid is being rerouted from public to private schools.

FPI urges state lawmakers to reject SB 202. Instead, legislators should halt further expansion of voucher scholarships, increase transparency and accountability around taxpayer dollars being diverted to private schools, and restrict the amount of funds a district may be required to redirect annually to private education.

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