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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — Florida is close to making it easier for students to attend private schools.

A bill that would create a new voucher program allowing more Florida students to attend private schools at taxpayer expense has begun moving in the state Senate.

The Senate Education Committee voted 5-3 Wednesday for the measure creating the new Family Empowerment Scholarship.

It’s aimed at tackling a waiting list of thousands of lower-income students for an existing private school voucher program.

Unlike that program, the new one would use money spent on public schools based on district enrollment.

It’s a top priority for Republican leaders who favor school choice, but opponents say it could siphon away money from traditional public schools.

Under the bill, teachers’ past SAT and ACT test scores would no longer be considered for recruitment and retention bonuses.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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