Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Louisiana lawmakers OK plan to have state taxpayers pay students' private school tuition

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BATON ROUGE — Louisiana lawmakers on Thursday gave final approval to a bill that would let parents of children educated in private and parochial schools direct taxpayer money to advance their education.

The Louisiana Giving All True Opportunity to Rise bill, also known as LA GATOR, is headed to Gov. Jeff Landry's desk. He is expected to sign it.

The funding will be part of education scholarship accounts for K-12 students. Landry's office has billed it as a way to empower parents to school schools that fit their family's needs and "aligns with their values." Detractors say pulling public money from public schools will harm students who don't attend private schools.

Once state administrators determine how much money is needed, and how it would be set aside, the funding plan would be phased in over a number of years.

Initially, the plan would have been in place fully after three years, but a late change in the bill said the state can implement it either more quickly or more slowly.

Legislative staff said the program would cost the state $260 million, but the Public Affairs Research Council said it would double that, at $520 million. The actual amount spent would be determined by the governor's office and future state lawmakers.

There is $1.8 million in the bill to set up the program. 

Louisiana's state government spends a set amount of money on public school systems, using tax money raised from the state's residents regardless of where their children attend school. 

A similar program makes vouchers available to students from low-income homes who attend poor-performing schools. The bill passed Thursday expands it, eventually, to all students regardless of where they are educated.


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