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Voucher provision could be back in play

The immigrant tuition bill isn't the only bill that will get a second chance in Tuesday's Senate Appropriations Committee meeting.

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, has filed an amendment to SB 1512 that would put the controversial school voucher proposal back in play. 

Galvano's amendment is not the expansion of the Tax Credit Scholarship program that leaders in the House and Senate once sought. It would not increase the cap on the tax credits available to businesses that fund the scholarships, or create partial scholarships for children from higher-income families. It would, however, open up the program to more foster children, and increase the amount of the scholarship slightly in 2016-17.

The new Galvano language also deals with accountability. One provision seeks to establish a Learning System Institute at Florida State University to conduct annual reports on student performance and year-to-year learning gains.

The amendment does not require scholarship students to take the state exams or something similar, as Senate President Don Gaetz has demanded. Still, Galvano said Gaetz considers the proposed changes "a step in the right direction."

Galvano acknowledged that there were still "a lot of differences" between the House and Senate versions. He called the differences "fourth-floor issues," meaning they would need to be resolved by the president and speaker.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will weigh in on the amendment Tuesday morning.

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