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Pennsylvania School Voucher Hearing Has Contentious Start

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) - A state senate panel this morning kicked off a daylong hearing on legislation to create a school tuition voucher program in Pennsylvania.

Along with privatizing state liquor stores, the effort to give parents tax dollars to send their children to private schools may be one of the most contentious issues that will roil the state legislature in coming months.

As he opened a Senate Education Committee hearing on the issue, Republican state senator Jeffrey Piccola, committee chairman and sponsor of the school voucher bill, likened supporters of the current system to those who resisted the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe to the bitter end.

"There is a Berlin wall around our failing schools and proponents are clinging to that wall, attempting to wall out freedom," Piccola said.

But Sen. Daylin Leach, a suburban Philadelphia Democrat, said supporters of vouchers were trivializing opponents' concerns.

"And I don't think it helps to sort of paint one side's views on this as cartoonish," Leach added.

Governor Corbett is a school voucher supporter.

Reported by KYW Harrisburg Bureau chief Tony Romeo.

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