Indiana school voucher expansion scaled back

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Republican lawmakers have scaled back a large proposed expansion of Indiana's private school voucher system.

Changes approved Monday by the House Ways and Means Committee would allow kindergarteners and some other students to be immediately eligible for the program if their families meet income limits. But the committee removed a provision that would have opened the voucher program to current private school students by not requiring them to first spend at least one year in public schools.

Committee chairman Tim Brown says that move was too expensive with a potential cost of up to $40 million.

House Education chairman Robert Behning sponsored the broader expansion, but said allowing students to enter at kindergarten is a good starting point.

The bill now goes to the full Republican-controlled House for consideration.

In his inauguration speech last month, Governor Mike Pence talked about the need to expand the school voucher program, pre-kindergarten and vocational education. Throughout his gubernatorial campaign, he said he believes it is time to make career, technical and vocational education a priority in Indiana.

"Even as we encourage every student to go to college, we recognize not every student is college bound. But they all deserve the same opportunity for success. Since all honest work is honorable work, our schools should work just as well for our kids who want to get a job as they do for our kids who want to get a college degree," the governor said in his speech.

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