COLUMBIA, SC – South Carolina is on the verge of becoming the 23rd state to enact private school choice, pending Gov. Nikki Haley’s signature. Yesterday the House and Senate approved the conference committee’s state budget report, which includes a tax-credit scholarship program for students with special needs.
Under the proposal, taxpayers can receive a credit worth no more than 60 percent of their state tax liability when donating to nonprofits that distribute private school scholarships to children with special needs. Scholarships cannot exceed $10,000 per pupil. The statewide limit on tax credits distributed is $8 million. According to 2011-12 data, more than 12 percent of South Carolina students are identified as having a disability that would qualify them for the program.
“This is an important step toward giving South Carolina parents access to the schools that work best for their children,” said Robert Enlow, president and CEO of the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. “Although it’s available only to a small percentage of students, we applaud state leaders for taking this historic action.”
Currently there are 15 tax-credit scholarship programs operating in 12 states. Just this year, Alabama created its first such program, while Georgia and Iowa increased their caps on available tax credits. Including vouchers, education savings accounts, and individual tax credits and deductions, there are 42 private school choice programs in 22 states and Washington, D.C.
“South Carolina is part of an ongoing trend in which private school choice is growing and reaching new states,” said Enlow. “And, encouragingly, states that have small school choice programs are expanding them to assist more families.”
States that specifically make students with special needs eligible for school choice are Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Virginia. For more details on those programs, and others, visit www.edchoice.org/ABCs.
Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn on Flickr (CC-By-NC 2.0)