SC politics: Budget plan would extend private-school choice program

May 12, 2014 

A one-year extension of South Carolina’s first private-school tuition program appears to be coasting through the budget process.

The program limited to children with disabilities didn’t take effect until January and faced extinction after a single semester without legislative action. But legislators in both chambers extended it as part of their spending plans for 2014-15. Senators continue debate this week.

Both the House plan and Senate Finance proposal maintain an $8 million cap on the total tax credits that donors can claim. Student scholarships are capped at $10,000. As of Monday, $6.8 million in dollar-for-dollar credits still are available for 2014.

Unlike in previous years, the idea of using tax credits to help parents pay private tuition hasn’t been hotly debated. The pilot approved last year represented advocates’ first victory.

Governor’s schedule, activities

Gov. Nikki Haley’s schedule for the rest of this week, released Monday by her staff, is:

Wednesday, 4 p.m. — Hold constituent meetings, State House. Call (803) 734-1999 between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Tuesday for an appointment. Appointments are first-come, first-served.

Wednesday, 6:15 p.m. — Volunteer at an adaptive yoga class for people living with disabilities, Yoga Masala, Columbia

Friday, 9:30 a.m. — Address the 2014 Department of S.C. Military Order of the Purple Heart state convention, Columbia

According to her office, Haley’s activities last week included:

9 — Ceremonial duties, taking part in photo opportunities with Miss S.C. and Miss S.C. Teen contestants, Junior Leadership Pickens County, the S.C. Arts Awards winners and the S.C. Association of Taxpayers, all at the State House, Columbia; also, taking part in a Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week rally, the Advocacy Day for Access & Independence rally, a Military Spouse Appreciation proclamation reading, all at the State House; also, attending the 11th annual Salute to Small Business luncheon in Columbia and taking part in the opening ceremonies for the 10th anniversary of Artisphere in Greenville

5 — Meetings concerning state policy

4 — Meetings or calls concerning an unidentified state agency or agencies

3 — Economic-development meetings

2 each — Legislative meetings, including attending the House GOP Caucus luncheon; also, two calls to federal officials, U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca

1 — Tour of a farm, J.W. Yonce and Sons peach farm in Johnston, with Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers, to assess damage to this year’s peach crop

Busiest day — Wednesday, with 10 activities

Slowest day — Friday, with one activity

Associated Press and staff reports

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