Key Issue: Voucher Bill HB2169

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What is PA House Bill 2169?

Tuition voucher plan will take state funds from school districts that need it most

On April 27, the state House of Representatives passed House Bill 2169, one of the worst tuition voucher bills we’ve seen - with an extremely close vote. The Senate plans to consider the bill soon, and legislators with deep ties to anti-public education special interest groups have made getting it to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk their top priority.

The bill would:

  • Take $144 million of taxpayer money from school districts that need state resources the most, forcing these school districts to cut programs, services, and staffing and raise property taxes to fill the gap.

  • Give parents of eligible students tuition voucher money on debit cards, with no virtually accountability for how the money is spent.

  • Allow vouchers to be used for tuition, fees, uniforms, tutoring, exams, instructional materials, computer hardware, software or internet access, and tuition for the first two years of college.

  • Include no income eligibility test and no provisions to make low-income students a priority for receiving vouchers.

How did my legislators vote on this bill and what does it do?

If you’re interested in the text of House Bill 2169, you can find it here.

And to see how your state representative voted on it, go here.

Education Stakeholders and Advocates Urge Senators to Oppose Voucher Bill

PSEA joined 28 other education organizations to urge state senators to oppose legislation that would siphon millions of dollars from public schools to pay for private school tuition and other expenses.

“This bill is a truly terrible piece of education policy,” PSEA President Rich Askey said.

“It’s nothing less than a full attack on public education. It would take $144 million from school districts most in need of state resources and give it to parents to spend on private school tuition, fees, uniforms, tutoring, computers, or all kinds of other educational expenses.”

Frequently Asked Questions on HB2169

PSEA and other pro-public education organizations have studied this bill carefully and analyzed what it does. 

$144 million

House Bill 2169 would create a tuition voucher program, taking $144 million of taxpayer money from school districts that need state resources the most.

How much will the program cost school districts?

  • House Bill 2169 would create a tuition voucher program, taking $144 million of taxpayer money from school districts that need state resources the most.

  • This would force these school districts to cut programs, services, and staffing and raise property taxes to fill the gap.

  • Two-thirds of the cost of the program (63.1%) is born by four districts, Philadelphia (43.9%), Reading (8.9%), Allentown (5.8%), and Pittsburgh (4.5%).

  • Seventy percent of the school districts that would be impacted by this bill were identified by the state last year to receive the “Level-Up” supplement to Basic Education Funding in recognition of the need to direct more state resources to those districts.

How is the voucher amount calculated?

  • House Bill 2169 calculates the tuition voucher by taking all state revenue (minus transportation subsidies) provided to ALL school districts and divides that amount by average daily membership (student count) of all school districts based on the most recent annual financial report published by the PDE.

  • Voucher amounts for students with special needs are then further adjusted based on the public school’s current level of expenditures for providing an education to special needs students. (These are commonly referred to as cost categories.) This adjustment is accomplished by multiplying the base voucher amount by the same cost category multiplier used in distributing state special education funding to school districts.

Does House Bill 2169 allow the tuition voucher amount to be placed on a debit card for parents?

  • House Bill 2169 requires the Treasury Department to develop a system to allow parents to pay for services by electronic fund transfer, including debit cards, electronic payment systems or other means of electronic payment.

  • The Treasury Department would be authorized to use debit cards to provide a voucher to families without any requirement to submit receipts, or other methods to ensure the money is spent on appropriate educational products and services.

Does House Bill 2169 require audits of the program to ensure financial accountability?

  • The Auditor General is only required to conduct random audits of voucher accounts and doesn’t even require a minimum number of audits.

  • The Auditor General recently announced that the agency would no longer conduct school audits.

What could the voucher be used for?

  • Tuition, fees, and uniforms
  • Fees for tutoring or other teaching services
  • Fees for tests (nationally normed assessments, AP exams, higher education admission exams, etc.)
  • Curriculum, textbooks or other instructional materials
  • Hardware, software, and internet connectivity
  • Fees for special instruction or special services for students with disabilities
  • Costs associated with evaluation and identification of students with special needs
  • Other expenses approved by the Treasury Department

Is the voucher limited to K-12 educational expenses?

  • No. Institutions of higher education are participating entities under House Bill 2169. A student who receives a voucher could use those funds to take courses at a college or university.

  • The bill also allows voucher funds to be used for the first two years of a higher education program after a student who receives a voucher graduates from high school.

Is House Bill 2169 designed to help low-income families afford private school tuition?

  • There are no income-based requirements in the legislation.

  • House Bill 2169 does not even prioritize economically disadvantaged students for tuition vouchers.

Take Action

Tell your senator to vote “NO” on this tuition voucher bill

Anti-public education lawmakers are making passing House Bill 2169 a top priority. It narrowly passed the state House on April 27, and the state Senate could decide to call it up for a vote at any time.

Contact your state senator today and tell them to vote “NO” on this terrible bill.

Every student deserves a great public education. And now more than ever, our kids can't afford to have resources drained from their public schools so that some lawmakers can score political points.