There are two major things that HB 136 would change about how vouchers work in Ohio:
- Eligibility: HB 136 would allow any student in any district whose family makes less than $95,000 a year to get a voucher covering the cost of tuition at a private or parochial school. The current state voucher program gives preference to low-income families. Other families can enter a lottery for the remaining vouchers. After a 2011 expansion of the current voucher program the lottery was no longer necessary because there were more vouchers than applicants for them.
- Expansion: The voucher system described in the bill would replace and expand the state’s current voucher system. Currently, only students assigned to schools rated “D” or “F” for two of the last three years can get vouchers. (Cleveland has a separate voucher program.) HB 136 would allow students to get vouchers no matter how their schools performed.
Under the version of HB 136 that was reported out of committee, the state would deduct about $5,800 from a school district’s state aid for each student who receives a voucher.
In addition, under HB 136, if a student’s tuition is less than the value of their voucher, the excess would be deposited in a savings account that the student could later use for tuition at an Ohio college or other educational expenses such as textbooks and student fees. However, Huffman, the bill’s sponsor, said in November 2011 that he would remove that provision.
And in December 2011, he announced that HB 136 would not move forward to a vote but that he hoped to incorporate it into future legislation.