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Scholarship To Help Kids Go To Private Schools Up For Debate

A bill aimed at helping lower-income students afford private schools is up for debate in the Nevada Assembly.

AB165 is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday.

It would allow businesses credit toward their modified business tax bill if they donated to a qualifying scholarship organization. The organization would give scholarships to students whose household income doesn't exceed 300 percent of the poverty level.

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Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval mentioned the program in his State of the State speech. Proponents say it would help students leave lower-achieving schools and attend better ones.

But Democrats are generally uneasy about the idea, saying it gives away state resources through the tax credits that should benefit public schools first.

Similar programs are running in other states. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 states have scholarship tax credit programs.

In North Carolina, it is being challenged in court because money there can be used for religious schools which can exclude students based on faith and because private school don’t have to meet the same achievement standards as public schools.

In Florida, where a tax credit scholarship program has been running since 2001, 51,075 students were enrolled in the 2012-13 school year and most of those students were minority students.

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Under the Nevada measure, the state can't offer more than $10 million in credits in its first year.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
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Natalie is an Emmy-award winning journalist who has worked in the Las Vegas market since August 1996, starting as a newscast producer for KLAS-TV Channel 8, and later as an online editor for 8newsnow.com.