The State Senate late Wednesday voted not to fund non-public school students with state money.
In a 23-18 vote, senators narrowly defeated a change to the budget to give tax credits of up to $4,000 to students who attend private schools. The bill would have allowed people tax credits for contributing to a scholarship fund to give private school scholarships to needy students.
Berkeley Senator Larry Grooms was the sponsor, saying public school does not offer good choices for everyone.
“There’s lots of things we can do to improve public education in SOuth Carolina, but there’s generation after generation after generation that’s been waiting for their school to improve and they haven’t. There are some that absolutely haven’t. And to trap another family without giving them another option when we can make a difference in their lives?”Grooms pled.
Clarendon Democrat Kevin Johnson challenged,”Although we would be subsidizing or giving grants or credits to the tune of $40 million, we still cannot regulate these independent schools. Am I correct?
“That’s correct, because if I want my son to be at a school to be at a school that teaches the Twenty-third Psalm, that teaches John 3:16, I don’t want the government coming in and saying ‘You can’t do that,’” said Grooms.
Richland Sen. John Scott questioned where the funding fit into the state’s priorities this year: “I sat here and watched you fight four-year-old kindergarten, fight Medicaid expansion and I’m supposed to now really enjoy the fact because you have a grand idea, the same group of folk, that you want to find a private school to give a tax deduction or tax credit?
Scott says the scholarship of up to $4,000 was not enough to cover the cost for people who could not afford the rest of the tuition and costs of private school.
Grooms said that all schools need competition in order to improve.