A controversial bill allowing families to put state education dollars toward private schooling options was dealt a blow Tuesday when a subpanel of lawmakers voted, 7-1, to refer it to interim study.
It’s unclear how much the vote in the Republican-controlled House Finance Division II subcommittee foreshadows Senate Bill 193’s fate as it heads to the full committee later this month and then the House.
House Finance Chairman Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, said the more telling motion was one that failed, 3-5, for the bill to pass. Some Republicans voted to study the bill in order to keep the legislation alive after that motion failed, Kurk said.
“And whatever the committee does, there will be a floor fight when it gets to the House,” he said.
Kurk was one of two Republicans who voted against recommending the bill pass Tuesday alongside Rep. Robert Theberge, R-Berlin. Kurk said he was too concerned about the $99 million the state predicts will be diverted from public schools to the private sector over an 11-year period if the legislation is enacted.
“The key factor in my decision was the effect on local school districts and property tax payers,” Kurk said.
The succession of amendments, which attempted to quell concerns about the bill’s impact on public schools while also reducing the state’s financial liability, have made the legislation a tough needle to thread. Conservatives have expressed anger at restricted eligibility for the program, and public school advocates have been upset at reduced reimbursements to districts.