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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Message From Walter Brown - Rock Hill Schools Grass Roots Director

Bill 3407 was sent from the House Ways and Means Committee to the floor of the House and placed on their calendar today for consideration. I had contacted Rep. Simrill prior to its passage in committee to see if he thought it would pass in committee. His reply was that he did not think it would advance this session. Information that I have received was that he was a leader in getting it passed in committee.  He feels that the majority of his constituents support “choice” and that is why he supports tax credit/vouchers with his votes.  It is time to let him know that the people of his district support public education. As you can see by the names highlighted below that four members of the York County Delegation are sponsors of bill 3407. Please start contacting them now to let them know your thoughts on how they are supporting and whether they represent you or not.

Walter Brown

H. 3407


General Bill
Sponsors: Reps. Herbkersman, Owens, QuinnSimrill, Stringer, Bedingfield, Barfield, Bowen, Clemmons, Corbin, Delleney, Hamilton, Hardwick, Harrison, Henderson, Hixon, Limehouse, Loftis, Long, Lowe, McCoy, D.C. Moss, Murphy, Nanney, Patrick, Pitts, Ryan, G.M. Smith, G.R. Smith, J.R. Smith, Sottile, Taylor, Viers, Crawford, Spires, Tribble, Lucas and Brantley
Document Path: l:\council\bills\agm\18339bh11.docx
Companion/Similar bill(s): 414

Introduced in the House on January 20, 2011
Currently residing in the House

Summary: Educational Opportunity Act

Voucher bill advances in House

Despite having what the Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) describes as a “substantial” fiscal impact on state finances – an estimated $2 billion upon full implementation – the House Ways and Means Committee on May 12 gave a favorable report to the tuition tax credit/voucher bill (H.3407), moving it to the House floor for debate.

With just nine legislative days remaining in the 2011 session (June 2 is the last day), it is most likely that the tuition tax credit/voucher bill will come up for debate on the House floor the week of May 23. According to BEA estimates, the state general fund  - which pays for law enforcement, prisons, Medicaid, education and more - would lose more than $800 million over the 13 years proposed for full implementation, and would need to be made up by tax increases or further cuts to an already bare-bones budget. Combined with the estimated reduction of more than $1 billion in appropriations to school districts, the total loss is about $2 billion.

Bill proponents have touted this year's version of the voucher bill as producing a "savings" for the state. The bill was amended in the Ways and Means Committee to state that the law sunsets in five years if a savings is not shown. The BEA's report, however, shows that beyond the first year there are no "savings" for the state, with the costs to the general fund quickly mounting annually. Proponents are disputing the BEA's report. Under the bill, "savings" to the state are, in fact, reduced appropriations to school districts due to public school students migrating to private schools. There are no local "savings" as costs to run schools will remain despite anticipated student migration. Districts would potentially see a “double hit” from the bill as revenue to the state budget are reduced from the tax credit, along with reductions in state appropriations to districts from migrating students.

SCSBA strongly encourages all school board members and public education advocates to contact their House members now and to urge a “no” vote on H.3407 in any form.

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