North Carolina lawmakers left the state capital on Friday without fully funding the waitlist for the state’s school choice voucher program, even though both House and Senate leadership agree that the funding fix needs to happen.

Lawmakers will return to Raleigh July 10 for a skeletal session, and then five more times this year: July 29, Sept. 9, Oct. 9, Nov. 19, and Dec. 11. But it’s unclear when both chambers could agree on budget adjustments that would include the $487 million in additional funding to clear the 54,800 applicants on the waitlist for Opportunity Scholarships.

In May, the Senate approved a stand-alone bill and sent it over to the House, but that chamber hasn’t yet taken it up. Instead, House leadership wanted to tie the increased voucher funding to augmented raises for public school teachers and state employees.

“I’m disappointed in the House because we sent them an Opportunity Scholarships funding bill eight weeks ago and they have not taken it up,” said Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, yesterday. “We also sent it to them in our budget adjustments. We today, on multiple occasions in conference reports that were being negotiated, offered to put Opportunity Scholarships in those conference reports and the House refused. So I think folks need to ask them why it’s not funded. because we have tried every way that we know how.”

In response, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said “We feel like it needs to be done in a comprehensive manner, for doing more with the surplus to help the traditional public schools. I think it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of when.”

In the meantime, school-choice proponents took to X, formerly Twitter, to express dismay at the legislature’s inaction.

Opportunity Scholarships are the state’s voucher program enabling families to choose a private school education for their children. Each scholarship is valued at between $7,468 and $3,360 each year, spread across four income tier levels ranging from $57,720 for a family of four in the first tier, to more than $259,740 a year in the fourth tier. A record-breaking 72,000 applications were received for the scholarships in February.

In addition to funding the Opportunity Scholarship waitlist, both budget bills include $24.7 million in recurring funds to clear the waitlist for the Education Savings Account program, or ESA+There are an estimated 2,015 applicants on that waitlist.