Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to flesh out how he would expand Florida’s school choice model nationally, if he becomes President.
In Ames, Iowa on Friday, the Republican candidate told voters a price tag and explained how the Treasury Department might handle the disbursements.
“You’d set the criteria, you know, in Florida, we get 100,000 students for a billion dollars a year (for) scholarship and administrative cost. So I think if you did like $25 billion, it could be revolutionary throughout this country.”
He said the scheme would be “modeled after part of what we’ve done in Florida.”
“We have a tax credit scholarship program so corporations can write off a certain amount of their tax liability. It goes to a scholarship granting institution and then they issue the scholarships based on the criteria. So I think what we would do is we do it through the Treasury Department, do it through budget reconciliation.”
The Governor has teased out details on the campaign trail, but this is the first time we’ve heard a hard number and a funding mechanism.
“K through 12. We are going to be able to do, I believe, universal school choice nationally. I think we’re going to be able to do it. We’re working on how,” DeSantis said in Nevada last month. “At least we’ll be able to bring school choice to lower and working-class people.”
“I think you have to do it nationally even though I think ideally it would be done at the state or local level because places like Chicago are never going to give these kids opportunities,” DeSantis said earlier this month.
2023 saw an expansion of the state’s school choice program, with new categories of students eligible to receive a voucher worth $8,000 per student to go to any private school. The cost to the state was estimated at the time to be at least $642 million.
The voucher program had been limited to families making 400% or less than the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is about $111,000 a year for a family of four. The state has been able to meet the demand from that group, although there is a waitlist for children with special needs to get funded.
New additions include children currently enrolled in public school whose parents earn more than 400% of the federal poverty level, children presently attending private school whose families make too much for the current scholarship, called the Family Empowerment Scholarship, and even homeschooled students who agree to a certain level of state oversight.
Anne Geggis contributed reporting.
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