The PA House passed HB 2169, Harrisburg’s latest school voucher bill, by a vote of 104-98. And it is a doozy.
HB 2169 would remove $144 million from school districts and give the money to parents in an account at the PA Treasury. Parents would be allowed to spend these K-12 school tax dollars on higher education, tutoring, uniforms, computer hardware, and other expenses allowed in the law. And here is something new–if families have any money left after their child graduates, the student could use this money to pay for the first two years of education at an institution of higher education.
No langauge in HB 2169 indicates that it would help or even prioritize children from economically disadvantaged families. Instead, with no income limits for families receiving vouchers, this bill is designed to be a handout to well-off families who are already educating their children in private schools.
And these fund would be wildly susceptible to waste, fraud and abuse, as our coalition wrote in this letter:
Treasury would be authorized to use debit cards to provide the voucher to families. An Arizona evaluation of its education savings account program found that parents have used voucher debit cards on unauthorized purchases, including a new television. One parent enrolled their child in a public school and simply accepted the money from the voucher debit card. Another parent used their debit card to pay for a child that did not even reside in Arizona. Employees of non-public school entities have been found to misappropriate funds in both Wisconsin and Florida with the purchase of luxury vehicles and a complicated money laundering scheme.
HB 2169 is now headed to the PA Senate.
We need state lawmakers to fund our local public schools, not take money out of them to give handouts to well-off families and grifters who will waste our precious school tax dollars on whatever they can get away with.