Louisiana aid for vouchers would rise under a bill approved Monday by the state House of Representatives.

Under current plans, dollars for the program would drop $6 million, or 14 percent compared to current spending.

Under House Bill 69, that aid would drop by $2.5 million.

In addition, assistance for the program could go up another $6 million if tax hikes awaiting action win approval before the special session ends on Thursday.

The House approved the bill 75-25.

It next faces action in the state Senate.

The state faces a shortfall of at least $600 million, and possibly $800 million, starting July 1.

Vouchers are state aid for low-income students attending public schools rated C, D or F to attend private schools.

About 7,100 students get the assistance.

Most of the recipients are minorities, and most live in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Pro voucher groups say that, if aid is cut by $6 million, about 1,000 students stand to leave the program.

The budget approved by the Legislature in the just completed regular session includes $36 million for vouchers, down from $42 million for the 2015-16 school year.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a critic of vouchers, has said the $6 million in voucher reductions is part of a $71 million shortfall in education funding that could be remedied in the special session, depending on how much money is raised.

Voucher backers say $42 million is needed to keep all the current voucher recipients in the program.

They say $45 million or so would allow the state to handle most of the new applicants.

Public schools also face a $44 million drop for the 2016-17 school year, which could also be trimmed during the special session.

The same bill would trim that shortfall by $12.6 million.

In addition, much of the rest of the gap could be eliminated depending on the fate of other bills.

House Bill 69 is a supplemental appropriations measure for state services for the financial year that begins on July 1.

Voucher backers say the program offers students a way out of troubled public schools.

Critics say vouchers siphon needed money from public schools.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter @WillSentell.

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