Raleigh, N.C. — State lawmakers have given final approval to revamp a program that helps the families of children with disabilities pay for private schools.
The House voted 91-20 Monday in favor of House Bill 269, which now goes to the desk of Gov. Pat McCrory.
Last session, legislators approved a tax credit for families of students with disabilities. The credit, worth $3,000 per semester, was intended to help families pay for education outside the public schools if those schools were not meeting a student's needs.
But the tax credit, which was not refundable, wasn't useful to low-income families who didn't owe that much in state income taxes.
House Bill 269 turns the scholarship into a grant program instead.
"It makes parents who are too poor to pay income tax eligible for the same program that those who do pay income tax are currently eligible for," said sponsor Rep. Skip Stam, R-Wake.
Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, said he disagreed with the original tax credit, but he supports the change to a grant program.
"This bill may actually make it a touch better," Glazier said. "It may actually allow some economically disadvantaged kids to cobble together some capacity."
The measure sets aside $3 million for the grants for each of the next two fiscal years. Home-schooled children would also be eligible. The program will be overseen by the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.