Senators left to find funding source for voucher program

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Friday, May 24, 2013 - 6:01pm

Knowing the funding for the state's voucher program is on shaky ground brings mother Falesha Augustus to tears. Her son loves his new private school, and she's not willing to give up the fight for the scholarships that pay his way there.

"Guess what? I haven't told my child, because I am going to do everything that I can do to send him to a better school. I can not allow the system to fail him again," said Augustus.

State senators are now left holding the bill for the voucher program, with no clear idea yet how they're going to fit it into the budget.

"We have to take a look at that and find out how many dollars are involved in that and then once we decide that, what would be the mechanism to be able to fund that. I don't have those answers yet, but we're going to have to be able to come up with them pretty soon," said Senate Finance Chair Jack Donahue.

Lawmakers will be forced to figure out a way to fund the scholarship program if it is going to continue. The state Supreme Court ruled the funding formula for the program unconstitutional earlier this month.

Senator Edwin Murray said the state's got to pay its bills from last year for the program. But he said if it were up to him there wouldn't be any room for the voucher program in the already dwindling budget money.

"That number, at least for next year is somewhere between $40 and $45 million dollars that we've got to find from some place if the governor and my colleagues intend to fully fund the voucher program. If it were up to me, we wouldn't have had vouchers to begin with. Until we get to the point where we properly fund education I don't think we should do vouchers," shared Murray.

Falesha Augustus said as long as the scholarship program hangs in the budget balance, she's going to fight.

"As a parent, I am there first hand. I’ve seen everything that went on in the public school system. I want the best for my baby, because that's my baby," said Augustus.

Lawmakers have just two weeks to get a budget through the process.


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