South Carolina System Subject of Gubernatorial Campaign

Last Updated: September 28, 2010

This article appeared in the September 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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South Carolina’s funding system is the topic of yet another legislative study committee. But committee members predict the law is not likely to be up for amendment, despite the fact that both gubernatorial candidates are expressing positions on the system.

The state Senate Select Committee on K–12 Funding began meeting last month to review revenue and expenditure laws and make recommendations about changes.

The committee study process has been an almost annual event since Act 388 was passed in 2006. The law was passed as a property tax relief law and effectively removed all homeowner property taxes from school district operating budgets. Instead, the state reimburses districts with funds from a one-cent sales tax increase included in Act 388. But the instability of sales tax receipts along with flaws in the law have meant most districts in the state have sustained major shortfalls in revenue. Nevertheless, widespread support for property tax relief in the state means strong support for Act 388, and some legislators have promised to reintroduce substitute bills if Act 388 is repealed.

Both gubernatorial candidates have promised to make changes to the funding system if elected. Democratic candidate Vincent Sheheen has said he would like to see more funding directed to poor rural districts that brought a school funding lawsuit. Republican candidate Nikki Haley says she wants to see funding more closely tied to individual students and their characteristics, a system sometimes called backpacking, along with a decrease in funding for the State Department of Education. Although Haley says she would sign a private school voucher platform typically supported by South Carolina GOP members, she says that her priority is changing the formula.

Read more:

K–12 Funding Select Committee Homepage with links to SC-specific funding system details, including the most recent revenue totals for each district:

Local coverage of the Committee meeting:

Coverage of the candidates’ statements on school funding:

Read more from the September 2010 Rural Policy Matters.