LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The omnibus education bill presented late Monday has cleared the Arkansas Senate and is moving to the House.
The Arkansas LEARNS bill includes enlarging the school voucher program, creating strict student-literacy guidelines and significantly raising teacher pay has cleared two hurdles toward becoming Arkansas law. The 144-page bill was introduced late Monday, moved through the committee process and received its final senate vote Thursday afternoon.
The bill passed the senate with 25 yeas, seven nays, two non-voting and one legislator voting present. All Republican senators voted yea except for Sen. Jimmy Hickey Jr. (R-Texarkana), the sole Republican nay vote, and Sen. Bryan King (R-Green Forest), who cast the present vote.
No Democrat senators voted in favor of the bill.
The bill is expected to move through the same process in the House before arriving on Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ desk for signature, making it state law. Sanders has promoted Arkansas LEARNS throughout her campaign and continued to promote it after becoming governor.
The Department of Education projects Arkansas LEARNS to cost $297.5 million in year one, with $150 million being new money. Year two, where the voucher program expands, is projected to cost $343.3 million, with $250 million as new money.