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Florida Governor Signs Tax-Credit Scholarship Expansion Bill

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By Andrew Ujifusa. Cross posted from the State EdWatch blog.  

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has signed into law a bill that expands the state's tax-credit scholarship program to a larger range of students and creates a new education savings account program.

The legislation, Senate Bill 850, will begin expanding the program in the 2016-17 school year. Right now, the state's tax-credit scholarship program covers only students from households making 185 percent of the federal poverty line or less, or roughly $44,100 a year for a family of four. In 2016-17, the maximum income threshold for eligibility will be 260 percent of poverty, or about $62,000 annually for a family of four. However, as I discussed in a May blog post, the amount of the scholarships will vary based on students' household income levels.

Jon East, the head of the program that administers the scholarships, Step Up for Students, told me that under the legislation he anticipates that the number of students receiving scholarships would eventually double from 60,000 (the present enrollment) to 120,000. 

Various advocacy groups have recently pushed to get Scott, a Republican, to veto the bill. As my colleague Karla Scoon Reid reported, these groups, including the Florida Conference of the NAACP and the Florida PTA, argued that it would erode the resources available for public schools and hurt English-language learners. But Scott, a Republican, has been generally supportive of school choice in the state. 

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