The students who qualify for the scholarship would come from families who earn 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $58,875 in a four-person household. The Florida median income for families of four: $65,728.
Florida has a similar scholarship voucher program, although the particulars of the write-offs and income levels are different. It also caps the amount each student receives at $4,533. That’s about 63 percent of the statewide average of tuition and fees, which vary by county, school and grade level. Florida has about 50,821 students who receive $229 million in tax credit benefits.
When he ran for Senate in 2010, Rubio called for a series of reforms, including the federal tax-credit program he’s proposing. The legislation was largely his brainchild, not Bush’s, and Rubio’s office reached out to the former governor’s foundation to help with some aspects of the drafting.
When Bush left office in 2007, Rubio was starting to serve his first year as Florida’s House speaker. He hired a large number of former Bush staffers, including one-time speechwriter Alberto Martinez, who works for Rubio today along with political advisor Todd Harris, Bush’s 2002 campaign spokesman.
Rubio also hired the husband of top Bush education wonk Pat Levesque, later appointed by Rubio to a state constitutional tax-and-budget reform commission.
Levesque is executive director of the nonprofit political group Foundation for Florida’s Future, which lobbies the Florida Legislature, and serves as CEO for the nonprofit Foundation for Excellence in Education, which weighed in on Rubio’s proposed legislation. Bush chairs both foundations.
The policies of Bush’s foundation have political risks and could have played a role in the downfall of Indiana’s schools chief, Tony Bennett, in the November elections to a teacher.
Bennett soon got a new job as education commissioner in Florida, Rubio and Bush’s home state.