(The Center Square) – Legislation that would establish West Virginia’s first school voucher system passed the Senate on Wednesday and is headed to Gov. Jim Justice’s desk.
House Bill 2013, sponsored by Del. Joe Ellington, R-Mercer, would allow parents to apply their students for the Hope Scholarship Program. The program would award students with vouchers equal to $4,600 per year to be used for private schooling or homeschooling expenses in place of public school.
The initial rollout of the program would cost the state about $23 million. By the 2027-28 school year, it would cost about $100 million annually if every homeschool and private school student receives a voucher.
Some lawmakers tried to reduce the scope of the bill by putting strict limits on the number of vouchers the state would give out, but these efforts were unsuccessful.
The legislation has support from Republican leaders who argue it would create more choice for parents and improve standards through increased competition. It was opposed by Democratic leaders who argued it would divert money out of the public school system.