Written by Don Byrd

The Trump Administration has issued a budget proposal for 2018 that includes $250 million to fund a new private school voucher program. But that is just the first installment. Altogether, federal funding for school vouchers and charter schools would increase to $20 billion per year under the President’s plan.

Here is the relevant excerpt from “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” (my emphasis):

Increases investments in public and private school choice by $1.4 billion compared to the 2017 annualized CR level, ramping up to an annual total of $20 billion, and an estimated $100 billion including matching State and local funds. This additional investment in 2018 includes a $168 million increase for charter schools, $250 million for a new private school choice program,

That is not a lot of detail, clearly, on how the money will be spent, or how a nationwide school voucher program would work.The President recently indicated his support for an approach like that in Florida, which includes school vouchers and tax credits that fund private schools, including religious schools.

As I have written here many times before, and the Baptist Joint Committee has long argued in opposing school voucher programs, funding religious education with taxpayer funds undermines religious liberty. Vouchers are a troubling policy for both the church and the state. That is true whether the money funding religious education comes from state funds or from the federal treasury. 

Obviously, there is a long road from a White House budget blueprint to an actual appropriations bill. But this proposal is worth watching.