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    Push for ‘School Choice’ Measure Hits Snag in Kansas Senate | Kansas News

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    By JOHN HANNA, AP Political Writer

    TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Top Republican lawmakers have hit a snag in trying to pass a proposal that would allow parents of academically struggling students to pay for private schooling with state dollars normally earmarked for public schools.

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    A bill that ties public school funding to the proposal failed Thursday night in the GOP-controlled Senate on a 19-19 vote. Republican leaders hoped to persuade at least a few GOP senators who voted no to switch to yes and planned to have another vote Friday.

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    Conservative Republicans argued their proposed “Student Empowerment Program” would give parents more ways to help their children and that promoting “school choice” pushes public schools to improve.

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    “We’re still failing those kids,” said Sen. Renee Erickson, a Wichita Republican.

    The House approved the measure Thursday, 64-59, so the Senate’s approval would send it to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly. She has not said whether she would sign or veto it.

    The measure includes Kelly’s proposal for $5.2 billion in state aid for public schools for 2021-22. But Democrats said the measure potentially siphons off several hundred million dollars for the new savings accounts.

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    In the House, Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, a Wichita Democrat, called the measure a “Frankenstein” bill filled with “anti-public education policy.”

    Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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