The S.C. House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill to codify Exceptional SC, the state’s special needs scholarship program, into permanent law on Wednesday.
Exceptional SC helps match special needs students with private schools that can best meet their educational needs. The program, which allows businesses and individuals to give as much as 60% of their state tax liability towards the scholarships, currently operates under a yearly legislative-mandated $11 million donation cap. The program hit that mark last Dec. 29, meaning that donations above the cap had to be held until the next scholarship cycle, which begins in July.
The 501c3 organization, with a five-member board appointed by the Legislature, operates under a state budget proviso and must be approved annually.
More than $30 million in scholarships have been awarded to 4,000 students since the program’s 2015 inception.
“This is a positive step forward for South Carolina families of children with special needs,” Exceptional SC board chairman Tom Persons said in a news release. “Making this program permanent in state law is an assurance for them that their children will have educational options available to them.”
The bill moves on to debate in the full House of Representatives.