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Florida's Hope Scholarship Tax Credit Funding Begins

The Florida Legislature created the Hope Scholarship Program during the last legislative session..

The state's newest school voucher program is ramping up.

Beginning Monday Oct. 1, Floridians purchasing a new car will now have the option to designate up to $105 of the vehicle's sales tax to fund what's called Hope Scholarships.  The money generated from the new car sales tax program will help fund scholarships for students who are being bullied at school.

If a parent reports their child is being bullied, a public school student will have the option to transfer to another public school or to request a scholarship to attend an eligible private school.

The scholarships came under fire during the state's last legislative session.

Opponents said the Republican-supported plan was a thinly veiled attempt at a greater push for charter school expansion in Florida.  Since its passing, State Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando has argued the new anti-bullying scholarship fails to protect LGBTQ victims.

Meanwhile, supporters pointed to the 45,000 incidents of bullying reported in public schools in the 2016-17 school year.

The private school scholarships are estimated to come to about $7,000 per student once there is enough funding to begin issuing vouchers. The Hope program would also allow students attend another public school, providing up to $750 in transportation costs. 

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