This week, the Ohio Senate introduced its proposals for the biennial state budget, House Bill 166. The Senate retained important features of the executive and House versions of the budget, including substantial school funding increases to enhance student wellness. To its credit, the Senate also expands eligibility for Ohio’s income-based EdChoice program, which provides private-school scholarships to children from low to moderate income families.
“All Ohio families deserve the opportunity to choose a school that fits their child’s individual needs,” said Chad L. Aldis, Vice President for Ohio Policy and Advocacy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Yet private school options are often out of reach for poor and working-class parents. The Senate’s expansion of the income-based EdChoice program will give more hard-working families the opportunity to make this important choice for their children.”
Specifically, the Senate—in the second year of the two year budget—expands eligibility for the income-based EdChoice program to low-income students in all grades K-12. Under the executive and House plan, eligibility would have been limited to grades K-7. The income-based program, first launched in fall 2013, started with only Kindergarten and has expanded each year. In addition, the Senate also introduced provisions allowing families to apply for an EdChoice scholarship year-round, rather than being limited to certain application windows.
“Almost 50,000 students are using one of Ohio’s scholarship programs to attend a school of their choice. Many more are on waitlists,” Aldis concluded. “The Senate should be commended for putting Ohio families first and empowering them with school-choice opportunities.”