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Senate passes funding boost for private school scholarships

January 20, 2022 GMT

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota Senate on Thursday passed a $1.5 million funding boost for a private school scholarship program that is funded through tax credits.

The bill’s proponents argued the program allows low-income students to go to the school of their choice, including religious schools. But public education groups have opposed the program because it siphons funds from the state government for private education.

Republicans broadly supported the proposal, which would raise the tax credit’s cap to $3.5 million. It’s the third time the cap has been raised.

“We ought to try and help as many families in South Dakota get as much education as they can,” said Sen. Lee Schoenbeck, the bill’s primary proponent, during a committee hearing this week.

But public school groups said the boost in funding was unnecessary and subsidized private schools.

“It’s really a voucher program for private schools with little oversight and no accountability,” said Mitch Richter, representing the United School Association of South Dakota.

The bill will next head to the House.