DES MOINES, Iowa – Governor Kim Reynolds signed a school voucher program into law Tuesday morning after Iowa lawmakers passed the bill overnight. The bill signing was held at a ceremony in the Rotunda at the Capitol.
The legislation will provide state-funded accounts for parents who want to send their kids to private schools, with $7,598 being made available per eligible student.
The debate over the bill started in the Iowa House Monday and continued for nearly six hours lasting until after 9:00 p.m. The Democrats voted against the bill and were joined by nine Republicans, but the bill still passed by a vote of 55 yeas to 45 nays.
That’s when the Iowa Senate began its debate, and it went into the early hours of this morning. With a vote of 31 for and 18 against, and three Republicans voting against the bill, it passed the Senate.
On the Senate debate floor, Republicans argued that the bill gives power back to parents, while Democrats said that the bill discriminates because private schools can deny admission.
“All parents, not just those who have the means to pay for it, have the God-given right to direct the educational destiny of their children within their care,” said Amy Sinclair (R), of Allerton.
“There isn’t a school, a private school, for every Iowa kid. That’s the point. Now, if you want to amend this bill, I’d be happy to defer for an amendment,” argued Zach Wahls (D), of Coralville.
Gov. Reynolds released her own statement on the passing of the bill, saying in part, “For the first time, we will fund students instead of a system, a decisive step in ensuring that every child in Iowa can receive the best education possible. Parents, not the government, can now choose the education setting best suited to their child regardless of their income or zip code.”