SC General Assembly and School Funding

By Paul Gable

The SC General Assembly is trying to make a constitutional crisis out of last year’s SC Supreme Court ruling on education funding.

SC House Speaker Jay Lucas and SC Senate President pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman filed a motion earlier this week with the SC Supreme Court requesting reconsideration of the Court’s November 2014 finding.

The finding stated the SC General Assembly was not providing enough funding for the poorer school districts in the state for even the ‘minimally adequate education’ called for by the state Constitution.

The main thrust of the motion was revealed in a press release by Speaker Lucas issued Monday:

“Arbitrary deadlines that seek to hijack the legislative process and meaningless approval from an unrealistic super-panel will not reform South Carolina’s education delivery system. Achieving actual improvement requires extensive study and input from those most familiar with the issues.

“The Court’s attempt to overstep its judicial authority further complicates the lawmaking process. More importantly, it negates the significant progress made by the House Education Task Force over the last ten months. Every child in every part of our state deserves access to a 21st century education. Because we must preserve the diligent work already completed by our task force, we think it is imperative that the Supreme Court vacate their most recent order and remove itself from the legislative process,” said Speaker Lucas.

The origins of the legal process that led to the Court’s decision last year were with a lawsuit first filed in 1993. The SC General Assembly did what it does best in the interim, ignore the problem in hopes it will go away.

It was only after the SC Supreme Court decision in 2014 that the SC General Assembly finally understood that it had a major problem with the way education funding is accomplished in the state.

The SC General Assembly ignores the laws it passed, especially those providing funding to local government agencies, while wasting hundreds of millions each year for various forms of corporate welfare.

Now, that the SC General Assembly is coming up on a deadline to report to the SC Supreme Court its plan to address the lack of funding, it wants to avoid the problem by claiming the Court overstepped its bounds.

Of course, requesting the same body that issued the opinion to vacate that opinion seems spurious at best. But, it will waste more time before a solution has to be found.


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