MIAMI, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed the universal school voucher bill, HB1, which expands school choice to every student in the state regardless of income or ZIP code.

What You Need To Know

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill opening school choice to every student in the state

  • The measure will become law on July 1

  • Proponents said parents will now be able to select the school that best meets their children's needs

  • Opponents say it will drain funds from Florida's public education system

House Bill 1 gives all parents the option to pull their children out of public schools and receive funds to enroll them in private or home schools. It goes into effect July 1.  

The Florida Legislature passed the measure last week and sent it to the governor for his approval. The House had passed the bill on March 17, and the Senate did so Thursday.

Supporters of the bill said it will prioritize students with disabilities, who face a long wait list for alternative schooling, and low- and middle-income students and allow parents to choose the best schools to suit their children's needs.

“Florida is No. 1 when it comes to education freedom and education choice, and today’s bill signing represents the largest expansion of education choice in the history of these United States. When you combine private scholarships, charter schools, and district choice programs, Florida already has 1.3 million students attending a school of their choosing,” DeSantis said.

The bill was a priority of House Speaker Paul Renner (R-District 19), who represents Flagler County and part of St. Johns County.

"Florida has delivered the greatest expansion of educational freedom in the nation and will unleash a wave of opportunity for millions of families,” Renner said. 

Critics said it will deprive public schools of needed resources and fund private schools that lack comparative oversight.

According to some estimates, the voucher program could cost upward of $600 million in its first year. 

"The potential impact on the funding for public education in our state — the bedrock for our communities, economy, and children's futures — is a looming risk to our state," according to a statement by the research organization and think tank Florida Policy Institute.

The Florida Education Association, a statewide federation of teacher and education workers' labor unions, also expressed its concerns about the law.

"Average Floridians will be helping pay for millionaires and billionaires to send to elite private schools that hand-select their students," the FEA said in a tweet.