A proposal to give corporations tax breaks for scholarships to private schools hasn't even been debated yet. But it's already paid for in the House budget.
House Bill 1104, sponsored by House Majority Leader Paul Stam, would offer tax write-offs to corporations who donate "scholarship" money for private school tuition. The donations would go to non-profit clearinghouses that would administer the awarding of the scholarships.
Proponents of the measure say it would help thousands of low-income kids attend private schools. Opponents say it's just a new form of voucher, a way to send public tax dollars to private schools.
A recent story in the New York Times highlighted abuses of similar programs in other states, but supporters of H1104 say it contains safeguards that will prevent such problems in North Carolina.
The measure would cost an estimated $617,379 in the coming fiscal year. That money is already set aside in the House plan as "Reserve for HB 1104."
The bill was filed last week and referred to House Education. It has not yet been heard in committee.
It's not unusual for leaders in either chamber to set aside money for key legislation, but it is a bit unusual when the legislation hasn't yet been taken up, let alone approved by the body.