The state budget process continued this week with the S.C. House Ways and Means Committee releasing its recommendations, which include good news for the S.C. Tuition Grants Program.
The Ways and Means Committee report included $20 million in lottery revenue for Tuition Grants, which retains the $10 million increase from two years ago. With this increased funding the Tuition Grants Commission raised the maximum grant to $4,500 and expanded eligibility to permit another 800 S.C. residents to qualify and attend the independent college or university of their choice.
Thanks to the leadership of S.C. House Speaker Murrell Smith we continue to make progress toward removing the Blaine Amendment from the S.C. Constitution.
Speaker Smith introduced legislation (H. 3591) which provides for a state referendum next year that would give the public the opportunity to decide the fate of the Blaine Amendment.
For my column this month I’ve presented my testimony before the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. A quick summary: There’s no place for the racism that inspired the Blaine Amendment to remain in our state’s constitution. The Blaine Amendment also has denied private colleges and universities federal funding and thwarted their collaborating with state and local government. We should remove this racist and anti-religious relic from our state constitution and give state agencies and local municipalities the freedom to work with whom they believe will best serve the public benefit. I’m confident that, if given the chance, voters will agree.
I’m very pleased to report the bill was approved by the Judiciary Committee in a bipartisan vote and is now on the House floor for debate.