Governor Bobby Jindal emphasized today that the Louisiana Scholarship Program is alive and well. The State Supreme Court's ruling is focused on the funding mechanism, but the ruling upholds the Scholarship Program. The Governor said the program would be funded through the budget.
Text of the Governor's Remarks:
"Three things. One, I'd say -- and this is very important -- I know there are a lot of moms out there waiting with bated breath to see what was going to happen with this court decision.
"I would tell those moms that they can breathe a deep sigh of relief. Their kids can stay in this program. They can count on the program being there not only this year, but next year as well. I know a lot of them were very concerned. We got over 5,000 kids this year, 8,000 kids have already been placed next year.
"Secondly, I'd remind folks why we did this in the first place. When we passed this reform, a third of our kids were below grade level, 44 percent of our schools were failing; we were spending over a billion dollars of state tax dollars on failing public schools. The good news is since we've enacted these and other reforms, we're giving kids all across Louisiana a chance to get a great education.
"Now the great news is, the Court actually upheld the basic program itself. Obviously we're disappointed they struck down the funding mechanism, but that is a pretty simple thing for us to remedy. We can do that through HB 1. We will do that.
"We'll work with the Legislature to appropriate that money. If you remember when we started the pilot Scholarship Program in New Orleans, we routinely funded that through HB 1. We had a fund created. So it's a fairly simple fix for us. The money that we will save, we will be able to then spend through HB 1 to make sure these kids continue to have a chance that these kids continue to have a choice.
"But the most important message I want moms and dads to hear across the state is I've seen their faces. We went to New Orleans East for example, and sat with kids and moms -- and we've been to schools all over this state where kids are excited -- they're getting a chance to get a great education. Moms and dads are getting a chance to choose where their kids get to go to school.
"I want those parents to know the good news is they can continue in their program, they can continue next year. The good news is that the Court has upheld the basic structure of the program. That's very good news for these families. I know a lot of them were very nervous about that."