- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Legislation sponsored by Republicans would give willing parents debit cards they can use to spend public funds on private schools, therapies and online courses for children.

Republican Rep. Karen Gerrish’s bill is set for a work session Friday and would restrict so-called education savings accounts for students with special needs.

Gerrish says parents could save unexpended funds for K-12 education.

The Maine Developmental Disabilities Council likens the program to school vouchers and says the bill would jeopardize families’ due process rights and regional special education programs.

Republican Rep. Jeffrey Hanley’s similar bill would allow all students to access such accounts.

A legislative committee voted 12-1 against recommending the bill, which means the Legislature could still consider the bill.

This year, legislators in Iowa proposed education savings accounts.

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