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Measure to open state scholarship accounts to more students, expand expenses heads to Holcomb

Representative Chuck Goodrich speaks on the House floor. He is a white man with black hair and a full beard.
Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News
The bill’s author, Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville), said the provision is meant to help students get to their internships and apprenticeships.

Legislation heading to the governor’s desk will expand several state education programs and increase funding for some students.

House Bill 1001 opens Indiana’s Education Scholarship Account program up to the siblings of students who have disabilities, and students utilizing Career Scholarship Account funds could use that money to pay for driving instruction.

Some lawmakers vehemently opposed the expansion of the ESA program, which currently provides funding for students who have disabilities. Opponents of the proposal expressed concern that those students may not be able to receive as much support if the funds are given to more students. However, the bill passed with that language intact.

The bill would also let students use Career Scholarship Account funds to get their driver’s license.

That proposal was removed in the Senate, but was re-inserted by a bipartisan committee once the two chambers reached an agreement on the final version of the bill.

The bill’s author, Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville), said the provision is meant to help students get to their internships and apprenticeships.

“I wanted the driver’s license stuff back in, so, we put the modified driver’s license back in,” he said. “We lowered the amount they could spend and we also added an employer match for transportation.”

The total cost for driver’s training must not exceed $1,000. Students and their families must also prove financial hardship and that driving is necessary to complete the student’s career training. Other transportation costs must not exceed $650.

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Another provision in the bill will create a new program that pays for high school graduates to receive training and earn credentials. The original version of the bill expanded the 21st Century Scholars program and other state scholarship programs to absorb that cost. However, the Senate amended the bill to create a separate program.

The details of that program and its funding will be determined during next year’s budget session.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.

Kirsten the Indiana Public Broadcasting education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair.