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Mar 6, 1:00 AM

School Voucher Bill Lets Some Peek at Restricted Data

For years, private-school vouchers have been criticized as a drain on public school funding and a violation of church-state separation. But a new voucher bill is coming under fire for a whole new reason: Giving voucher providers special access to restricted state information. Step Up for Students -- a Tampa nonprofit that awarded vouchers to 33,000 low-income children statewide this year -- would get a list of the 100 biggest payers of corporate income taxes to aid its fundraising. "I want Step Up for Students to be able to fish where the fish are," said the bill sponsor, Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee. But that information would continue to be off-limits to everybody else. "It smacks of favoritism," said Barbara Petersen, president of the First Amendment Foundation in Tallahassee. "If they can get it, why can't we get it?"

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