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Weatherford: Expand voucher program

If Florida’s controversial school voucher program needed a powerful ally in Tallahassee this year, it found one: House Speaker Will Weatherford.

Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, is building support for a proposed expansion of the tax credit scholarship program, which provides private-school scholarships to about 60,000 low-income children in Florida.

The proposal would enable corporate donors to earn dollar-for-dollar sales tax credits in exchange for contributions to the scholarship program. (Donors can currently earn credits toward their corporate income taxes, as well as their insurance premium and alcoholic beverage excise taxes.) It would also create new partial scholarships for participating students whose families suddenly earn too much money to qualify.

But Weatherford may have to agree to some radical changes to the program — including a proposed requirement that scholarship students take standardized tests.

“For a bill to pass the Senate, an assessment will be a prerequisite,” Senate President Don Gaetz said Friday.

Read more here.