State senators defeated an effort to strip money for school vouchers out of the $25 billion state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The Senate voted 15 for and 19 against an amendment that would have changed from $44.6 million to $24.3 million of taxpayer money to help pay private school tuition for some public school students.

State Sen. Dan “Blade” Morrish, R-Jennings and sponsor of Amendment 3422, said his change would pay for the roughly 4,500 students who received vouchers and moved schools last year. But it would eliminate funding for students who wanted vouchers to move to private schools starting this fall.

Morrish said that with the recent ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court, the state general fund would have to pick up the costs to continue the program. It would be fiscally irresponsible to grow the voucher program until government officials can figure out how best to pay, he said.

State Sen. Bob Kostelka, RMonroe, agreed, saying that vouchers should be suspended “until this program works out all of its kinks.”