Education savings account bills fail in both House and Senate
All four Republican proposals killed as of Tuesday’s session midpoint
All four bills put forward by Republicans this year to let parents use state education funding to cover the costs of educational opportunities outside the public school system failed to make it through this year’s General Assembly.
One bill carried by Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, died in the Democrat-controlled Senate. Two others carried by Dels. Phillip Scott, R-Spotsylvania, and Marie March, R-Floyd, failed in Republican-controlled House Education subcommittees
The most promising, House Bill 1508 from Del. Glenn Davis, R-Virginia Beach, initially cleared the House Education Committee, which Davis chairs, but ran into trouble later in the legislative process.
That bill, which gained the support of numerous Republicans including Lt.-Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, would have created the Virginia Education Success Account Program, a proposal that would allow parents to set up a savings account funded with state dollars that could be used to cover educational expenses outside public schools in Virginia. Funds could be used for costs like tuition, deposits, fees and textbooks at a private elementary or secondary school in Virginia.
Last month, Davis estimated that an average of $6,303.25 could have been available per student. The program would only have applied to students previously enrolled in public school or who were starting kindergarten or attending first grade for the first time.
Out-of-state funding appropriated for students, Davis said a third would have been directed to the program.
Davis said when the bill reached the House Appropriations Committee Friday, he was one vote short of what he needed to pass the legislation and agreed to send it back to the Education Committee in hopes of fast-tracking it through the approvals it still needed. He told the Mercury he considered adding a delayed enactment clause to the proposal to skirt concerns about the current budget cycle but said the committee was “one day short” of exercising that option.
On Tuesday, the deadline for the House to complete consideration of its bills, his legislation effectively died for lack of action.
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