Florida Senate OKs bill to create new school voucher program

Family Empowerment Scholarship

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida is on the verge of creating a new school voucher program under a bill passed by the Senate.

The Senate voted 23-17 on Thursday to create the "Family Empowerment Scholarship," which would spend taxpayer money to send students from lower-income families to private schools.

Democrats opposed the bill, saying it would divert money from public schools to send them to schools that aren't held to the same accountability standards. But Republicans said the bill also gives school districts money to recruit and retain teachers, as well as money targeted to help struggling schools.

The new voucher program would be capped at 18,000 students in its first year. The bill is a priority for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

A similar measure is being considered by the House.

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