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Louisiana Lawmakers Scramble to Revise Voucher Funding

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The fallout from the Louisiana Supreme Court's ruling that the funding mechanism for the state's new voucher program was unconstitutional is now hitting state legislators.

Lawmakers in the state are scrambling to identify a way to pay for the program, which cost roughly $25 million, about three-quarters of which has already been paid out to voucher schools, says an article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

In addition, the court decided to nullify the 2012-13 minimum foundation program (the state's per-pupil allocation) because the Legislature did not follow the proper procedure, automatically reverting the state's MFP funding back to the previous year's formula. Reverting to the 2011-12 formula increased education costs overall by $29 million, the state's superintendent, John White, announced on Wednesday.

As the Senate Education Committee works with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to hammer out the MFP funding formula, John White has said that the Senate's budget bill will add a line item for the voucher program, drawing the funds from the general fund instead of the MFP to ensure its funding is constitutional.

About 8,000 students have already been matched with voucher schools for the 2013-14 school year, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal has said.

In addition, the course-choice program, part of Gov. Jindal's sweeping education reforms that included the voucher program and would allow students to take up to five classes outside of their home school with taxpayer money, will continue as planned. The state supreme court ruled to let the program stand. However, state superintendent White announced that the state's education department will finance the program itself rather than going through the state's legislature.

So far, about 3,000 courses have been chosen, totaling about $2.1 million in expenses, says the Times-Picayune article.

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