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 Billions in taxpayer dollars now go to religious schools via vouchers
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Posted on 06-08-24 9:44 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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In Ohio, the GOP legislature last year significantly expanded its voucher program to make almost every student eligible for thousands of dollars to attend private school. As a result, more than 150,000 students are paying tuition with vouchers this year — up from about 61,000 in 2020. About 91 percent of this year’s voucher recipients attend religious schools, the Post analysis found. When vouchers for students with autism and other disabilities — who typically seek specific services — are removed from the list, the portion going toward religious education rises to 98 percent. (Unless otherwise noted, the Post calculations exclude schools for students with disabilities.) In Wisconsin, 96 percent of about 55,000 vouchers given this school year went toward religious schools, The Post found. In Indiana, 98 percent of vouchers go to religious schools. (Indiana state data only specifies the number of vouchers for schools with at least 10 recipients.) In Florida, several programs combine to make every student in the state eligible for vouchers, with more than 400,000 participating this year. At least 82 percent of students attend religious schools, The Post found. Florida is first in the nation in both the number of enrolled students and total cost of the voucher program — more than $3 billion this year. And in Arizona, more than 75,000 students are benefiting from the Empowerment Scholarship Program, which pays for any educational expense. In 2022-2023, three-fourths of the money — about $229 million — went to 184 vendors. Most of that money went for tuition, 87 percent of it to religious schools. Arizona also has an older voucher program, funded by tax credits, which last year subsidized tuition for at least 30,000 students. (The state tracks only the number of scholarships given, and one student can receive multiple scholarships.) Since this program was created in 1998, 19 of the 20 schools that received the most money were religious, according to a state report. Those 19 schools received about 96 percent of the $767 million spent between 1998 and 2023 at the top 20 schools. The largest conservative state without a program — Texas — moved closer to one Tuesday when several Republicans who had opposed vouchers were defeated in legislative runoffs by pro-voucher candidates.
 


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