Note: Following is an encapsulation of 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. Kevin Johnson: The real losers here are our public school teachers, principals, students.
I am truly disappointed. I came up here assuming I was working with some of the most intellectual people in South Carolina, and this is what we have.
For 15 years, serving as a school board member, I saw the demise, how they were trying to bring school choice in. Finally, finally, Mr. Rich has won. A New Yorker has won because he sent enough money down here to convince you.
So I applaud you, South Carolinians -- I applaud you for doing an idiotic thing.
Rep. James Smith: It's all about perception that we're providing parents choice and helping poor children; we're doing neither of those things. We're going to spend $37 million, and these taxpayers are going to get $140 and say, You've got choice now.
This is outrageous. This body has just failed to fund minimally adequate education. We're a poor state. We have real challenges. Yet we're spending $37 million to allegedly provide choice.
You're not speaking the truth. You're telling them a lie.
But you're going to undermine the efforts we're making to improve public education.
For wealthy families, this is just gravy. They're already paying for private school tuition, and this is just another nice dinner out.
Gravy for families who really don't need it, aren't asking for it, at a sacrifice to our public schools. I hope you feel real good about voting for this bill.
This is just the foot in the door. They've been working on this for ten years. Back then, it was a lot bigger effort; they kept making it smaller, and they've spent 12 to 15 million dollars just to get to this day.
After 10 years, we're going to give South Carolina families, poor and wealthy, $140 if you home-school, $280 to go to private school.
They're getting a lie, is what they're getting.
Don't feel like you're doing anything to improve the lives of working people.
There is no choice here, just a false promise, an ideology that propagates this notion.
This is one of those days when it doesn't add up. They finally get a victory; took a really bad idea and sold it to the people of our state. They'll be back next year, working to undermine public education again. And I and my colleagues will be back to defend it.
Rep. Grady Brown: I asked my deskmate, the Rev. Karl Anderson to tell me this story again.
Howard Rich and his infamous money have walked around this State House seven times, and the walls came tumbling down.
I wonder -- I'm passionate about it -- how many hundreds of thousands of dollars that Howard Rich and his donors have doled out to candidates in South Carolina. In time, I intend to find out.
It's something that needs to be said, why he and his many donors from all over the United States sent thousands of dollars here. Why do we have to have someone from outside the state, from New York, to try to deter the educational process we have in this state. Why?