Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday that he will line-item veto a school choice proposal in an effort to get the state budget across the finish line.
Shapiro announced his veto after Democratic state Rep. Matt Bradford notified the governor that the Pennsylvania Award for Student Success program (PASS) did not have enough support in the state House to pass, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The $100 million school voucher program, aimed to support low-income families, passed the Republican-controlled state Senate as a part of the $45.6 billion state budget bill in June.
“Over the weekend, Leader Bradford requested a legal memo from the Office of General Counsel, which confirmed that without enabling legislation setting up this program, my Administration legally cannot implement it,” Shapiro said in the press release. “Knowing that the two chambers will not reach consensus at this time to enact PASS, and unwilling to hold up our entire budget process over this issue, I will line-item veto the full $100 million appropriation and it will not be part of this budget bill.”
Families with an annual income 250% below the federal poverty line would have been eligible for taxpayer-funded vouchers through the PASS program, which would have begun in the 2024-2025 school year, according to Penn Live, a Pennsylvania-based outlet. Those eligible would have received vouchers up to $15,000.
Shapiro has been previously endorsed by several teachers unions including the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT), a press release showed. Jerry Jordan, president of PFT, said the PASS program would “siphon millions of dollars from public schools is even under consideration,” the Lion reported.
“We are incredibly disappointed… that Gov. Shapiro could be the first governor in Pennsylvania’s history to sign a school voucher bill,” Rich Askey, Pennsylvania State Education Association president, told the outlet before the program was vetoed.
Throughout the country, lawmakers are moving to enact school choice legislation; in March, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law creating a universal school choice program. On July 4, Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed the state’s 2024-2025 budget Tuesday, expanding the already established school voucher program.
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