Gov. Haley thanks House for education budget

      By SEANNA ADCOXAssociated Press

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Gov. Nikki Haley says the House budget takes a historic step in providing a good education to all South Carolina students.

      Haley thanked the House on Wednesday for adopting an education plan she unveiled in January after a series of meetings with teachers, administrators, legislators and business leaders.

      "What I'mmost excited about, what I really want to celebrate today is that the SouthCarolina House has followed our lead and said we are no longer going toeducation children based on where they live," said Gov. Haley. "We are nowgoing to start educating children based on the fact that they all deserve to knowwhat the American Dream feels like, they deserve to know what success feelslike. The House has done its part to pass this historic reform, it's now timefor the Senate to do the same."

      It provides more money to students in poor, rural districts without taking money away from other districts. Changes include a first-ever weighting for poverty, which means an additional $97 million would be spent on students who qualify for free- and reduced-price meals.

      Democrats have long fought for such a weighting. Rep. Kenny Bingham says the governor pushing for the change made the difference.

      "It startedwith Governor Haley's State of the State address when she said that educationwas going to be a priority," said Bingham. "When thegovernor puts her stamp of approval on something, when she leads the effort,when she's inclusive like she was, it makes transformation possible, andwithout that, transformation is not possible. This was a heavy lift becausethis is a historic change and it was brought about by the governor's leadershipand I'm thankful for that and the state of South Carolina should be thankful toher - K-12 is the big winner in this year's budget."

      In all, the House budget package sent Wednesday to the Senate adds more than $180 million to K-12 education.

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