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North Carolina revenue decline means alternate sources for voucher spending considered

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Recently lowered revenue projections for North Carolina state government are making some state legislators think more carefully about how to pay to cover the new high demand for K-12 private school scholarships.

The Senate passed earlier this month a measure that would set aside $468 million more for now for the Opportunity Scholarship program. Scholarship applications soared for the fall after the General Assembly agreed to end the income caps under which families could qualify. But there wasn’t enough money earmarked to cover everyone on the waitlist.

The bill would need one more affirmative House vote to go to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. But House Speaker Tim Moore told reporters on Wednesday that his chamber is looking at alternate sources of money to cover the demand in part because of a revenue forecast downgrade late last week. While state economists estimated the state will still have nearly $1 billion more in cash at its disposal through mid-2025, the amount is $430 million less than what was projected in April.

Republican legislative leaders in both chambers have made addressing the program’s funding gap a high priority during this year’s annual work session.

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