A school vouchers bill will be put on pause for at least two more weeks, as Senate Republicans “tweak” its language.
The Senate was primed for a Tuesday vote on the bill creating a gradually expanding school vouchers program for low-income students. But after hours of closed-door Republican caucus meetings, including a sit-down with Governor Corbett, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi said the bill will undergo some changes before it’s called to a vote. “I would call them minor,” he said. “Some people use the word ‘tweaks.’ But not substantive changes in the structure of the bill.”
Democrats say Pileggi and Senate Republican leaders are scrambling for votes, and that more and more lawmakers are worried about the voucher program’s cost. The GOP leader insisted that isn’t true, and predicted the measure will pass with Democratic support.
The voucher program would be limited to 144 troubled schools in its first year. 46 of the schools on that list changed this week – and Democrats allege that was done to secure more votes for the plan. “When I woke up yesterday morning, one of my school district and 46 schools that were not on the list as failing schools,” said Minority Leader Jay Costa on Tuesday. “But at the end of the day we had a new 46 – 46 new schools that were part of this program. In the Pittsburgh area, Woodland Hills school district, the junior high and senior high, the day before were not troubled problem schools, but the next day they are. That’s problematic to us.”
The Senate is in recess until April 26th. Republican leaders are still hoping to deliver the legislation to Corbett’s desk by the end of June.