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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Times editorial: Voucher expansion a bad idea



A plan by Florida lawmakers to expand tax-credit vouchers for low-income kids isn't good tax policy or good education policy, says the St. Petersburg Times editorial board.

On the fomer: Corporations already can avoid paying their entire corporate tax bill or insurance premium tax bill by earmarking the money for vouchers. The legislation would add to the list the alcoholic beverage excise tax, direct pay sales and use tax, and the oil and gas severance tax. Letting taxpayers earmark their tax bills for specific purposes is a dangerous path. Using this logic, taxpayers could argue they only want their tax money spent on public education or environmental programs they support. They could starve unpopular but necessary state programs such as prisons. State government cannot function that way.

On the latter: To their credit, supporters of this voucher program have embraced more accountability over the years after a rocky start. The legislation sponsored by Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, would require any school with at least 30 voucher students to report the school's performance on norm-referenced tests. It is a step in the right direction, but only roughly 10 percent of the participating schools have that many voucher students.

Read the full editorial here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:50am]


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