State of the States
Private-Sector Role Eyed in Pre-K Expansion
• South Carolina
• Gov. Mark Sanford
Despite a recent court ruling ordering South Carolina to offer more preschool opportunities across the state, Gov. Mark Sanford made no promises to expand early-childhood education during his State of the State Address on Jan. 18.
The first-term Republican said he believes in early-childhood education, but he urged lawmakers to take stock of existing programs before asking taxpayers “for more money.” He urged the GOP-controlled legislature to “use the private sector’s capacity” in developing any new programs.
A circuit court judge ruled Dec. 29 that the state must improve early-childhood-education opportunities for its poorest and most rural children. ("S.C. Judge Tells State to Do More for Young Children," Jan. 11, 2006.)
Tax Revision: Gov. Sanford spent much of his speech talking about enhancing the business climate in South Carolina, especially in light of competition from other countries. “For the first time in world history, a kid in Hampton County is directly competing with a kid in Shanghai, New Delhi, or Dublin,” he said.
He addressed the legislature’s interest in cutting property taxes, which could have a major impact on K-12 school funding. He said changes to the tax system should not merely consist of a sales-tax increase, and should either represent a tax cut or no revenue gain for the state.
If lawmakers rework the tax system to make the state more responsible for K-12 school funding, the state should “cap the growth rate” in school districts’ spending, Mr. Sanford said.
School Choice: Although the governor suggested earlier that he would back away from pushing a school choice plan as his top legislative priority, he again implored lawmakers to allow families to choose their own public schools and to pass a bill creating a statewide charter school district as a way to increase growth in charter schools.
Vol. 25, Issue 20, Page 19