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 $463 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.

“We 100% support fully funding the Opportunity Scholarships," Moore said. “Really the question now is not the funding and nor ... really the amount of funding. It’s going to be the source of funds.”

Moore said the Senate's legislation would use that additional cash to meet the scholarship demand, but House Republicans believe there may be sources where that funding can be taken without affecting the state budget process. Moore didn’t elaborate on those sources, saying options were part of negotiations with the Senate. The General Assembly’s chief job this session is to adjust the second year of the current two-year budget.

Cooper, a Democrat, opposes the private-school scholarships and wants to block any program expansion.


This story corrects the amount of money going immediately to the K-12 private school scholarship program. It is $463 million.