Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the largest expansion of Florida’s school voucher program in the state’s history into law on Monday morning.
HB1 makes all K-12 students in Florida eligible for a private school voucher from the state, regardless of income.
The bill was sent to DeSantis late last week after clearing the state House and Senate. Before signing off on the bill, the governor called it “the largest expansion of education choice not only in this state but in the history of the United States” and “a major game changer.”
The expansion also covers homeschooled students. It allows state funds to be added to an education savings account, which parents could use towards a number of school-related purchases.
When the voucher program passed Thursday, it was met with stiff criticism from Democrats. House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell recapped some of them Monday noting “cost and accountability are grave concerns.”
Although it was signed into law, the voucher program’s price tag remains uncertain. The House estimates $209.6 million. While the Senate estimates $217.2 million.
However, third party nonprofits like the Florida Policy Institute warn taxpayers could be on the hook for billions. Lawmakers will have to straighten it out during this year’s budget process, which is currently underway.
HB1 goes into effect on July 1, and would begin prior to the 2023-2024 school year.