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Tax money for students for private school on SC Senate floor

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina senators said a bill that would give some less well-off parents and guardians up to $6,000 a year for private school tuition will be the first thing they debate in the 2023 session.

The proposal allowing vouchers passed the Senate Education Committee on Thursday. Members approved a nearly identical bill to the one that passed in 2022, but it died when senators and the House, which passed its own version, couldn't agree on a compromise.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey told members the bill will come up for debate Tuesday on the Senate floor.

The bill will allow what supporters call education saving accounts to up to 5,000 students the first year, increasing to 15,000 students in the third year. Lawmakers would set aside $90 million for what they said is a pilot program.

The program will be limited to families that qualify for Medicaid, which is usually about twice the federal government's poverty level.

The House and Senate could not compromise over the bill last year after differences emerged over how to test students using the taxpayer money.

Massey insisted last year that students using vouchers take the same end-of-year standardized tests as students in public schools to make it easier to compare progress and results.

House leaders have said a voucher bill is also a priority for them.

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