Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brannon's Amendment 3 is tabled

Note: Following is an encapsulation of actions taken and remarks made by legislators during today's debate. While this note does reflect remarks made by these lawmakers, it is not a full and verbatim transcript of the remarks.

Rep. Doug Brannon, Amendment 3: If a private school offers any scholarships and they qualify under this bill to receive scholarship funds, then they must accept voucher students for the amount of the voucher offered by the scholarship granting organization.

Let's face it: Average tuition at a private school in South Carolina is $11,000. If all you're giving them is $7,500, they don't have the money to make up the difference. So make these schools take these students.

Rep. Seth Whipper: What are the numbers involved in this voucher transfer?

Brannon: It's $4,000 deduction if your child enrolls or IS enrolled in a private school.

Whipper: Given merely on the fact the student is enrolled?

Brannon: Is enrolled or will be enrolled, up to $4,000, paid in the form of tuition. It's $2,000 for people who home-school their children, and less for transportation across public school district lines.

Scholarships may be granted for up to $5,000 to some students, paid to private schools for the benefit of these children.

Whipper: What we're talking about is SGOs -- some kind of foundation, a scholarship-granting organization. What are they?

Brannon: All I know is what I've read in the bill. There could be one, or ten thousand. There's no limit to the number of them. One could have $25 million.

Whipper: But they can only give a certain amount?

Brannon: Five thousand or ten thousand per child who qualifies. My amendment requires any school that gives a scholarship to accept scholarships from SGOs without asking parents for any additional funds.

Whipper: Are they philanthropic?

Brannon: They're non-profit. There are rules in the bill itself related to them.

Whipper: Will these SGOs be limited to schools they name for a period of time or in perpetuity?

Brannon: That's not in the bill.

Rep. Eric Bedingfield: To clarify, average tuition is $4,400. I don't disagree there are private schools with high tuition, but others have very low tuition. This amendment would require schools that aren't equipped to take SGO students to take them. So I move to table to amendment.

Brannan requested roll call.

Unidentified: But public schools HAVE to take these students...

Vote: 67-48, tabled.

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