Bill Description: Senate Bill 1045 would expand the Advanced Opportunities program to nonpublic school students, with a request for $750,000, subject to appropriation, allocated from the education budget.
Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government? Conversely, does it eliminate or curtail the size or scope of government?
Senate Bill 1045 would create Idaho Code 33-4603, which would expand the Advanced Opportunities program for nonpublic school students. This program would allocate up to $750 per student “to use toward dual credits, postsecondary credit bearing examinations, and career technical education certificate examinations.”
This is an expansion of a government program and could increase spending in coming years.
Senate Bill 1045 would put education tax dollars directly in the hands of families. This would give parents of nonpublic school students the choice to enroll their children in a program previously exclusive to public school students, potentially curtailing the size of the existing government education monopoly.
The bill would require all participating schools to establish timelines and requirements for participation in the Advanced Opportunities program. Also, parents and students who are not part of the public education system would need to agree to program requirements and complete the State Department of Education’s participation form to document that they meet the program’s requirements. This gives the State Department of Education some control over private institutions and families participating in the Advanced Opportunities program.
Does it increase government redistribution of wealth? Conversely, does it decrease government redistribution of wealth?
The fiscal note for Senate Bill 1045 states that the overall cost of the program is subject to appropriation with an initial request of $750,000 which will be redistributed to non-public school families.
Families who choose private school or homeschool already contribute taxes to the public education system, taking money from people who have earned it but not allowing those same people to access the funds without being part of the public education system. Allowing education money to follow the student to the school environment that best suits them instead of forcing them to partake in the government’s education system would reverse, in at least a small way, the wealth redistribution taking place.
Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?
This bill expands an existing educational services program to private school and homeschool students. Previously, the Advanced Opportunities program only applied to public school students, which discriminates against nonpublic school students. All students, regardless of the school they choose to attend, deserve equal access to the same taxpayer-funded education opportunities.
The bill provides only $750 per nonpublic school student which is far less than the original program's provision of $4,125 for public school students. Ideally, public funds should be provided at parity for all students.
Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the United States Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the US Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?
The Supreme Court ruling in Espinoza V. Montana established that a tax-credit program directing money to private schools cannot exclude religious schools. In a post Espinoza world, the government cannot discriminate against private religious schools by excluding those students from access to a publicly funded education program. This bill upholds the religious liberty protections guaranteed in the U.S. constitution by giving students at religious schools equal access to a publicly funded education program.
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