PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Pennsylvania House Democratic committee traveled to Philadelphia Tuesday for the first in a series of hearings on a controversial school voucher proposal.

The House Democratic Policy Committee heard from supporters and opponents of Senate Bill 1, which would provide a subsidy for the best and the brightest low-income students in failing public schools to transfer to private or parochial schools. 

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While the committee indicated a willingness to listen to all sides, many members made it clear that they are against the proposal. Committee Chairman Mike Sturla calls it a scheme to dismember public schools.

“It’s got a huge price tag on it, third year it’s estimated to be a billion dollars. Even there, not every child that would qualify for a voucher would be able to get into a private or parochial school,” Sturla said. “So, this notion that everybody gets to flee their public school that’s failing doesn’t make sense.”

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There’s a long way to go before the fate of this bill is decided but Representative James Roebuck of Philadelphia says one thing is certain.

“If voucher legislation is ultimately approved, it will be very different than what we’re looking at right now,” Roebuck said.

Reported by Paul Kurtz, KYW Newsradio

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