School Voucher Bill
Opponents of school vouchers, like Peggy Cochran of the National Education Association, say they are not fooled by the wording of House Bill 639.
"Either way, whether it's a voucher, whether it's a tuition tax credit, or whether it's a charitable scholarship, a voucher by any other name is still a voucher and it still takes money away from the general revenues of Missouri and it still takes money from our public schools," Cochran says.
The bill gives money to kids in failing school districts to transfer to other schools -- public or private. The primary supporters of the voucher program, the Missouri Citizen Education Fund, donated money to politicians in Missouri who support the school voucher program, including Governor Matt Blunt. The Missouri Citizen Education Fund received over $425,000 in donations last year to support Missouri politicians. But less than 1% of that money came from Missouri taxpayers, causing opponents of the bill to argue that the goals of the Missouri Citizen Education Fund don't reflect those of Missouri voters. Senator Chuck Graham also says the organization donated more than the legal amount to fund politicians who support school vouchers.
"The maximum contribution that someone can accept by law when they run for the House of Representatives is $300. They spent tens of thousands of dollars supporting Ed Robb in his effort to win the 24th District, and Therese Sander in her effort to win re-election in the 22nd District. All in all, in my Senate District they spent nearly $50,000 to try to elect people that are pro-voucher candidates," Graham says.
Officials say the bill could take as much as $40 million away from Missouri's general fund that funds public schools. People who contribute get an 80% tax credit.