On Tuesday, the South Dakota House of Representatives passed the state’s first education choice program, the Partners in Education Tax Credit Program (SB159). The program will allow $2 million in tax credits to fund scholarships for low-income students whose families earn less than 150 percent of the free and reduced-price lunch income requirements. The bill awaits the signature of Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
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“South Dakota has chosen to be a leader rather than a follower, adopting a relatively tiny program compared to the big-thinking opportunities available in competing states. But South Dakota children and taxpayers still have many reasons to look forward to the effects of this new school choice opportunity. Experience in other states overwhelmingly shows that private school choice increases respect for civic virtues such as free speech, saves money, and increases academic performance. Given America’s many decades of moribund education results – and skyrocketing costs of government expenditures set to choke K-12 – school choice is a rare, win-win way forward in an era of hard choices.”
“South Dakota takes a small step toward providing quality education for students most in need. Scholarship tax credits allow parents to enroll their child in a school that will meet their educational needs. This program should be expanded rapidly to all children in South Dakota.”
“South Dakota helped low-income children yesterday by passing a school choice scholarship program, allowing disadvantaged kids access to better schools.”
“While a universal education savings account bill would have been ideal, I won’t fault South Dakota legislators for taking a gradualist approach here. Providing families a chance to get their children away from the public school system, even if it is just a handful of them, is a step in the right direction. I have no doubt that the Partners in Education Tax Credit, if signed into law, will show South Dakotans its merits. From there, hopefully, state legislators will move to make school choice a reality for all South Dakota families.”
The Heartland Institute is a 32-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.