COLUMBIA — South Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore John Courson predicts the school-choice bill passed by the House in March will run out of time this year.
At the end of March, the House approved H. 4894, which would give income tax credits to parents of children who are home-schooled or attend private school, as well as make low-income and disabled students eligible for partial scholarships to attend other schools.
“The problem with any legislation that comes over from the House at this late date (is) we’ve got the appropriations bill,” said Courson, a Columbia Republican, who grew up in Augusta.
“By the time we complete that, we’ll be basically almost 90 percent through the legislative session. So any bill that has a lot of controversy attached to it, I think, will be very difficult to get out of the Senate this year.”
The regular legislative session is scheduled to end June 7. Senate rules allow a single senator to stall a bill, which could further hinder the school-choice bill’s passage.
“I think it needs to be thoroughly vetted, and I would intend to do that,” Courson said.
Most of the votes against the bill came from House Democrats, including Rep. Bill Clyburn of Aiken.
Clyburn said his chief objection to the bill, which the House passed 65-49, was that it would siphon away $37 million from the state.
“Our constitution guarantees an education for our boys and girls,” he said. “And there are so many complaints coming from the public school system ... about the (funding) shortage for basic student costs, and we’re still not where we ought to be. And yet we’d take away $37 million.”
But his delegation colleague, Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, celebrated the bill’s passage in an e-mail newsletter.
“Education is not a one-size-fits-all proposition; each child is educationally unique in how they learn,” Taylor wrote. “In my view, this is not a battle between ‘Choice’ versus public education as opponents try to frame the argument; both have their place and both need support.”