NC Senate Budget Includes Debit Card Program to Pay for Low-Income and Disabled Children’s School Costs

North Carolina pays millions of dollars each year so students from low-income families and children with disabilities can attend private schools, but a provision tucked into the Senate budget would go beyond tuition vouchers to provide debit cards to parents to pay for school costs.

The Personal Educational Savings Account, or PESA, is geared toward students with disabilities. Their parents would get a prepaid debit card with up to $9,000 a year on it, and they could use the tax-free money to pay for everything from tuition and books to tutoring and school transportation costs.

Leanne Winner, director of governmental relations for the North Carolina School Boards Association, complained that there’s been no public examination of the plan because the Senate rolled out its budget bill late Tuesday and is expected to give it final approval early Friday.

Trending: King Cooper Moves NC to Phase 3, Still More Restrictive than Original Reopening Plans

Winner described the plan as a “voucher program on steroids” and said that other states with similar programs have had problems with debit card accountability.

take our poll - story continues below

Do you think Roy Cooper should reopen North Carolina?

  • URGENT COVID POLL: Do you think Roy Cooper should reopen North Carolina?  

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Completing this poll grants you access to First In Freedom Daily updates free of charge. You may opt out at anytime. You also agree to this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

“In Arizona, we have seen parents buy big-screen TVs. There was one who was investigated for using the money to pay for an abortion,” she said.

Bob Luebke, senior policy analyst for the conservative Civitas Institute, said PESA is the next logical step for school vouchers in North Carolina, building upon the 3-year-old Opportunity Scholarships program.

“Parents know best the educational needs of their child,” Luebke said. “I think the paramount concern is matching the child to the school that best fits their educational needs, and that’s what ESAs do for parents.”

As for accountability, he said the state will have ways to ensure the money is used for allowable educational expenses.

The Senate budget sets aside $450,000 to start the program in the coming school year, growing to $1 million in 2018-19. Both sides of the debate predict the PESA program will grow as it has in Arizona, Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi and Nevada.

The budget also calls for a massive expansion of the Opportunity Scholarships program, which now sets aside about $35 million for vouchers of up to $4,200 a year per student. Under the Senate proposal, $10 million would be added to the program each year for the next decade.

READ FULL ARTICLE

(Source: http://www.wral.com/senate-budget-includes-debit-card-program-for-school-costs/16696751/)

Have a hot tip for First In Freedom Daily?

Got a hot news tip for us? Photos or video of a breaking story? Send your tips, photos and videos to tips@firstinfreedomdaily.com. All hot tips are immediately forwarded to FIFD Staff.

Have something to say? Send your own guest column or original reporting to submissions@firstinfreedomdaily.com.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here