Owens Passes College Voucher Plan

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Governor Owens has signed the nation's first college voucher plan into law. He calls the move a landmark step that will empower thousands of students.

The governor signed the measure Monday morning at the state Capitol. The voucher law will provide stipends of up to $2,400 to each Colorado undergraduate student who qualifies for in-state tuition. Student will first have to apply for the stipend, which is then put into a trust fund. The money can then be directed by the student to a particular
institution when they register.

Governor Owens says institutions the plan is beneficial in more ways than one. First, he says, vouchers will force schools to compete for students, giving them reason to offer better education. And secondly, he says, it will encourage kids to go to college who might not have a chance to otherwise.

The vouchers can also be used at private colleges. But, in those cases, the value is cut down to $1,600.

The new measure is facing one setback though. State lawmakers say the voucher amount for public schools may have to be cut to $1,600 if voters don't come up with a way to ease budget constraints either by easing fiscal restraints in the state constitution or using money from the national tobacco settlement.