House lawmakers set aside Senate EdChoice program fix, negotiating their own

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — ​With a possible solution in hand, the Ohio House of Representatives has decided to go a different route in preventing hundreds of schools from being added to the eligibility list tied to the EdChoice program.​

For much of the day Thursday, negotiations were underway on this new solution that could radically alter the EdChoice program.​

According to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, the alleged deal would eliminate the performance-based vouchers moving forward while keeping all needs-based vouchers.​

Performance-based vouchers are restricted to schools considered to be failing on State Report Cards, something that has not only been changed multiple times in the last six years but widely considered by many in the legislature to be fundamentally flawed and in need of reform.

​Need-based vouchers are tied to the applicants’ income and checked against the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Currently, those making 200 percent FPL can get a full scholarship voucher; those making up to 300 percent FPL can get a 3/4 scholarship, and those making up to 400 percent FPL can get a 1/4 scholarship.

​According to State Representative Kyle Koehler, a stout supporter of school choice, he would like to see an adjustment made to those tiers that would create a sliding amount instead of the steps, or cliffs. In other words, if someone makes 201 percent, Koehler would like to see them get closer to a full scholarship than a 3/4 scholarship.

​As the day wore on, plans were shifted by the House and Senate to accommodate further negotiation.​

Not unlike what was seen during budget season when committees and chambers were scheduled to meet and then delayed, time and time again until it devolved into an “at the call of” situation depending on whether that is a committee chairman, the Speaker of the House, or the Senate President. ​

As of 6 p.m., there was no end in sight for the negotiations, despite a rapidly approaching Saturday deadline.

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