Publisher's note: The author of this post is Barry Smith, who is an associate editor to the Carolina Journal, John Hood Publisher.
Bill would reimburse tuition at private schools, replacing tax credit
RALEIGH The House Wednesday night approved a bill that would reimburse parents for private school tuition for special-needs children.
House Bill 269
would provide reimbursement of $3,000 per semester or $6,000 a year for tuition and special education services. It would replace a tax credit for such services that was approved by the General Assembly in 2011.
"There are a number of lower-income people who are unable to take advantage of this," said Rep. Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe, in referring to the current tax credit. "The scholarship grant takes the place of the tax credit."
"This bill is about choice," said Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford.
Rep. Alma Adams, D-Guilford, argued against the bill, saying that poorer parents would not be able to afford the up-front costs for tuition.
"We're talking about the poorest of children," Adams said. "They've got to spend the money first that they don't have."
Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, also opposed the bill, saying it costs more than $3,000 a semester or $6,000 to send a special-needs child to school.
"It will not help low-income parents," Insko said. She said transportation problems would be an impediment for children of lower-income parents.
Rep. Yvonne Holley, D-Wake, said that the bill lacked accountability.
Brandon responded, saying such a claim was "mind-boggling" that parents would pay to send their children to a private school that didn't meet their needs.
Legislative fiscal analysts estimate that the bill would cost between $2.1 million and $3.7 million a year to implement the provisions of the proposed law.
The bill passed the House by a 75-36 vote. It now goes to the Senate.