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BOISE -- Idaho charter schools are now one step closer to getting state funding to help offset building and maintenance costs.

The Idaho House on Tuesday voted 42-27 for legislation giving up to $1.4 million in relief next year to the 40 nontraditional schools operating across the state. It now goes to the Senate.

In some ways, the vote was historic, marking the first time a legislative body agreed to use general fund revenue for charter school facilities costs.

Proponents say the bill is needed for charter schools to survive. But several Republicans sided with Democrats to defeat the bill, arguing it saps funds cash-strapped traditional schools need.

Mountain Home Republican Rep. Pete Nielsen said the bill helps level the playing field for charters that can't ask voters to support bond levies.

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