Budget plan extends private school choice program

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A one-year extension of South Carolina's first private school tuition program appears to be coasting through the budget process.

The program limited to children with disabilities didn't take effect until January and faced extinction after a single semester without legislative action. But legislators in both chambers extended it as part of their spending plans for 2014-15. Senators continue debate this week.

Both the House plan and Senate Finance proposal maintain an $8 million cap on the total tax credits donors can claim. Student scholarships are capped at $10,000. As of Monday, $6.8 million in dollar-for-dollar credits are still available for 2014.

Unlike in previous years, the idea of using tax credits to help parents pay private tuition hasn't been hotly debated. The pilot approved last year represented advocates' first victory.

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