"529 Bill" builds interest in legislature, among administrators

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)
Superintendent Gene Weeks (Source: KAIT-TV)
Superintendent Gene Weeks (Source: KAIT-TV)

GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A bill in the Arkansas legislature is sparking a lot of feedback from public school superintendents, with one area superintendent saying he is worried about the bill's effects if it is passed.

The bill is Senate Bill 6, and it would allow people who use the college savings funds in the state to now be used for tuition at K-12 schools, including private schools and religious institutions.

Supporters of the bill said it's needed to ensure Arkansans don't face state tax penalties if they withdraw the funds for K-12 tuition. 
Finance officials said the change could cost the state up to $5.2 million per year.

Greene County Tech Superintendent Gene Weeks said it would come out of state revenue, and that could impact public education.

"If you're a private school parent, you'd probably be excited about it," Weeks said. "If you're a public school educator like myself, you worry about things that might have an effect on taxes."

As far as the number of students, Weeks said he doesn't think it will impact their district significantly.

He said he also believes it's not enough money for most people in public schools to be able to afford a private school's tuition.

"It might help a high middle-class family thinking about going to private schools to make it more affordable," Weeks said. "But, for most people, it's not going to be enough to get them over the hump."

But, he said he is worried about the impact on state revenue.

The House approved its version of the bill, House Bill 1008, today by a 62-16 vote. The Senate also voted 23-6 to approve its version of the bill.

On Thursday, the House will take up the Senate's version and the Senate will vote on the House's bill.

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