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Friday, March 30, 2012

Message From Joy Grayson - Greenville county


Last night, our House of Representatives voted 65-49 to pass H. 4894, the Tuition Tax Credit/Deduction bill, labeled by some as a "school choice" bill.

What Does This Bill Do? 

First, this bill, regardless of income, will give tax deductions to parents for each child enrolled in a private school, home school or in a public school outside his or her district. Keep in mind, this is a “deduction” not a credit. So, a $4,000 deduction may only amount to a few hundred dollars off your tax bill if your kids leave public schools for other options.  Second, this bill also gives a tax break to individuals or corporations who make donations to scholarships (vouchers) to fund private school options.  Third, this bill will cost our State and you, the taxpayer, $37 million in its first year!

What Does It Not Do? 

Theoretically, the scholarships provided for in the bill would allow "exceptional needs" students and children who receive Medicaid and free or reduced lunches to attend private schools.  However, private schools do not have to take these children. Private schools have full control over their admission policies. The bill does not require private schools to admit low income or special needs students.  Also, low income families typically do not pay income taxes. There is no tax break provided for those who do not pay income taxes. This does NOT help the poor children in our state choose other schools. There is no busing requirement, no after school care, no special needs requirements and no reduced lunch plans for students. Therefore, this bill only helps the parents who can already afford private school education. Please do not be fooled when politicians say this helps poor children have school choice.
It is estimated that SC will lose $37 million in revenue during the first year due to this bill. The house passed their budget a few weeks ago, but this potential $37 million reduction was not factored into it.
Our state does not fully fund the current public education costs at levels required by the state Constitution, yet the Legislature deems it necessary to start funding private education. Currently, public schools are funded at 67% of the amount required by law. With next year's budget, funding levels will rise 72% of the required amount. This is the amount used to fund our school 14 years ago in 1998.
My house representative, Tom Corbin, voted yes to this bill last night. Truthfully, I am extremely upset as he has stated he was a public school advocate. However, his votes do not show this and his vote last night proves to me that he is more interested in a political show. There are outsiders from NYC and PA who are pouring in tons of money into our political system and are helping candidates get elected. They are pushing their agendas and the main agenda they have is a school voucher bill using the name school choice. Howard Rich and the Koch brothers are some of these. They have already paid millions of dollars to our representatives. For more information, please go to Tom has taken their money, as have most other legislators you know. It is hard to not believe that this type of money is not influencing their vote.
I know many of you are tired of hearing me preach about this issue, but I urge you to learn more. This type of bill will have a direct effect on our public schools. School choice is not bad.  Greenville County has an abundance of choices for education. We have some wonderful public, private, magnet and charter schools. But this bill is not about the children or about education.   Once our legislators fully fund our public school system, then it may be logical to fund other options. But, now is not the time.
This bill goes to the Senate next. Please talk to your senators, ask all of  the candidates before the June primary their specific view on this issue. VOTE in the primary. Pass this email to everyone you know and please, please, visit the links below. This has become an important issue to me because when I volunteer at Mountain View Elementary School or Greenville Middle School, I see the many wonderful things happening in education but I also see empty science labs and no front office help. I see copy rations and teachers funding their own supplies. Our state is so much better than this. We need to stop thinking politics and party lines. Someone needs to stand up for what is right. We need to care for our children, not let people from out of state decide how to do that. interesting information on Howard Rich including donations to candidates.
Thanks for reading this and please pass along. The word needs to get out. Joy Grayson

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