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School-choice legislation passes South Carolina vote, heads to the governor

Jason Bedrick, an education policy researcher, also cited similar developments in North Carolina and Oklahoma. 

South Carolina State House. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
South Carolina State House. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The South Carolina House voted on Thursday 74-36 to pass bill S. 39, which creates “education scholarship trust funds” that families can use to pay for educational expenses. The bill now goes to Gov. Henry McMaster.

The legislation provides up to $6,000 annually to low- and middle-income families, which they can use to pay for private-school tuition, textbooks, tutoring, therapies for qualifying students with disabilities, transportation in certain instances and other costs. South Carolina is home to three private Jewish day schools: Addlestone Hebrew Academy (Charleston), Cutler Jewish Day School (Columbia) and Chabad Jewish Academy (Myrtle Beach).

The scholarship will begin with up to 5,000 students, expanding to 15,000 by year three. Medicaid-eligible families will be eligible initially, and after three years, any household with less than $100,000 in annual income will become eligible.

Jason Bedrick, education policy research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, had told JNS earlier that he was confident the bill would pass the South Carolina House. He is also paying attention to developments in North Carolina and Oklahoma.

A North Carolina universal education savings account (ESA) bill, which already passed the state Senate, has sufficient support to pass, overriding the governor’s veto, said Bedrick.

And a compromise bill, which Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has proposed, would provide refundable, personal-use tax credits that would be eligible to become universal over three years. It cleared the state House.

It is encountering some resistance in the Oklahoma senate, said Bedrick, “but the governor has stated that he will veto every single bill they send him until they pass school choice and a tax cut.”

The governor already vetoed a bill, SB 162, on April 26.

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