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House lawmakers Wednesday passed legislation that would allow Arkansans to make tax-free deductions from their 529 college savings plans in order to pay for private school tuition.

The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Jeremy Gillam, R- Judsonia, passed with a vote of 62-16, with 10 members voting present. Much of the opposition came from Democrats, who likened the legislation to controversial voucher programs.

Gillam pushed back on that depiction, and said the bill would have a minimum effect on public school districts and state coffers. The Department of Finance and Administration estimated the effect of the bill would be a $5.2 million drop in state revenues.

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Similar language failed to pass when it was attached to the state treasurer's budget during the fiscal session, when it needed 75 votes to pass in the House.

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