I have to apologize for a posting I made last week. Apparently I sent out the request for contacts at about the same time the House was passing Proviso 1.86. I wanted to find out more about a proviso and why it slid by so quickly and quietly.
Rock Hill Three is a member of Old English Consortium; an excellent group supporting public schools in several counties in the upstate. From there I learned that the House, who may not have the votes to pass a full voucher bill, has switched to proposing voucher components into “one year only” “provisos” attached to the state budget. Last year, it was a proviso for an experimental “pilot” voucher program only for “special needs” students. This year, as the state budget got to the House floor, last year’s proviso was just amended; expanding it to include “at-risk” kids. Being attached to the State Budget got it through since few wanted to veto the entire budget over a “little” proviso. Provisos are also not listed on the normal legislative bill tracking system since it is apparently attached at the last moment.
Vouchers are a threat to public schools because they drain and strain our already extremely limited funds even more. Our state is under pressure from the courts to improve public school services in our extremely high poverty districts. Our own greatly more fortunate district had budget problems last year because of mandated federal requirements in special education, state legislative mandated and deserved but not funded increases in teacher pay and insurance benefits, and, typical over several years, inadequate funding of Base Student Cost. Yet the tax credits allowed to investors through voucher type bills deplete even further the tax base available for public schools.
There will be one more opportunity in the Senate to fight this proviso. It will now go to the Senate Finance K-12 subcommittee, chaired by Senator Wes Hayes. It is not too early to begin contacting Senator Hayes to express your opposition to vouchers and tax credits which drain public school money. In addition, please express opposition to this veiled attempt to sneak vouchers in the back door, which, if proposed at all, should stand alone as a separate bill.
Contact information for Senator Hayes