Alabama House committee advances education savings account bill



(The Center Square) – Creation of an education savings account program in Alabama is headed to the House of Representives for a full floor vote.

The Ways and Means Education Committee approved, 11-4, in a Thursday morning vote along party lines. All four Democrats were against the Creating Hope and Opportunity for Our Students’ Education Act.

Republicans have a 78-25 advantage – there are two vacancies – in the full chamber.

The legislation would create a $100 million fund for annual scholarships of $7,000 used by parents for tuition and other educational costs. It is also Gov. Kay Ivey’s biggest legislative priority for the session.

Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, is the sponsor and chairman of the committee.

“I appreciate the discussion from yesterday,” Garrett said at the outset of the 15-minute meeting. “I thought it was pretty robust, a lot of good questions. One thing about this committee I appreciate is everybody digs in and does their due diligence and that’s really important for the subjects we deal with and the amount of money we’re appropriating.”

One member, state Rep. Barbara Drummond, D-Mobile, spoke out against the bill before the vote.

“I think everyone on this committee has the goal of improving education in Alabama,” Drummond said. “I listened to all of the discussion, but I am somewhat perplexed by the folks trying to reach those poor little children, those who have parents who don’t have the wherewithal to maneuver the system, those that are in the Black Belt, those that don’t have a choice like they do in Mobile.

“I don’t think this particular piece of legislation is going to meet the mark. I think it’s going to profit schools where parents don’t need any help.”

The committee held a hearing on Wednesday to discuss the bill and its possible effects on K-12 education.

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