New Jersey Opportunity Scholarship plan advances

Adam Emerson

UPDATED: New Jersey’s proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act won unanimous approval Thursday in the state assembly’s Commerce and Economic Development Committee. Of the five members who approved the plan, three were Democrats, including the committee chairman, Albert Coutinho. While Coutinho acknowledged there are concerns over the measure within his party’s caucus, he said the vote was “a sign that we’re serious about education reform and considering all options.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker testified in favor of the proposal: “This bill doesn’t remove our moral obligation to fix the failing public schools in New Jersey, nor does it relieve the crime that’s happening every day when we fail our children. [But] it’s about time we give some small sliver of immediate hope for parents who are desperate in our city.”

Before approving the plan, Coutinho said the overall size of the program would be reduced from nearly $1 billion over five years to $360 million, the Asbury Park Press reported. Proponents said they expect further amendments as the bill heads to the assembly’s Budget Committee.

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