Republican leaders in the South Carolina Senate are pushing a significant expansion of the Palmetto State’s fledgling school choice program – with an amended bill poised to clear the GOP-controlled chamber early next week.
Is the legislation under discussion similar to the universal parental choice bill that was signed into law in Arizona last year?
Sadly, no … but the amended version of the South Carolina bill (S. 39) could potentially put the state on a glide path toward a more market-driven academic system.
According to my sources, senators are planning to merge a pair of choice programs in the hopes of providing an estimated $130 million in academic scholarship money to parents in the coming fiscal year. The bulk of that funding would come in the form of tax credits which would go toward academic scholarships – including $40 million for any eligible student, $25 million for special needs children, $25 million for economically disadvantaged children and $10 million for homeschool children.
As many as 25,000 children could wind up benefitting in the event the legislation becomes law in the coming fiscal year – which begins on July 1, 2023.
The maximum annual tuition scholarship for special needs and economically disadvantaged children would clock in at $11,000, while the max scholarship for all other kids would be around $7,700. Homeschool families would be eligible for up to $1,000 in assistance.
Per pupil funding on South Carolina’s failed government-run system is pushing $18,000 per child, per year … totaling nearly $14 billion annually. And that’s not counting carry-forward balances hoarded by districts, federal “stimulus” funding or proceeds from local bond referendums.
GOP lawmakers in the Senate told me senators Josh Kimbrell and Shane Martin deserved particular credit for pushing the new choice proposals – and that finance chairman Harvey Peeler and majority leader Shane Massey also deserved recognition for their roles in shepherding the legislation through the chamber.
Lawmakers are expected to pass the legislation this coming Tuesday (January 24, 2023).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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