Florida lawmakers approve new private school voucher bill

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Florida lawmakers have sent Gov. Ron DeSantis a bill creating a new voucher program for students to attend private and religious schools using taxpayer dollars traditionally spent on public schools.

The Republican-led House voted 76-39 on Tuesday to authorize the $130 million Family Empowerment Scholarship program. It would be available to as many as 18,000 students in its first year for families of four with annual incomes of $77,250 or below.

DeSantis is a strong supporter of what the GOP calls school choice efforts.

Democrats contend the program would strip away money from cash-strapped public schools. They note that the Florida Supreme Court found a similar law unconstitutional in 2006 and claim this proposal would meet the same fate.

Existing Florida voucher programs serve low-income, special-needs, disabled and bullied students.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.