State Supreme Court rules against Gov. McMaster’s grants for private schools, again

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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster speaks during a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in West Columbia, S.C. As of Monday, McMaster says all businesses will be allowed to be open, as long as they adhere to social distancing and capacity limits. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — The Supreme Court of South Carolina granted Governor McMaster’s petition to reconsider their October ruling in the SAFE grants case.

According to court documents, their new opinion released Wednesday is similar to their last one.

In October, the Supreme Court said the use of $32 million in federal grants to help parents afford private school tuition through the use of SAFE Grants violated the state constitution.

The governor made that announcement about CARES Act funding this summer while in Greenville at Hampton Park Christian School.

The intention of the one-time, needs-based grants of up to $6,500 were reportedly going to help or subsidize the 2020-21 tuition for eligible students participating private, parochial or independent schools in the state.

Each state received an allocation for a Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund, and South Carolina’s share of the funds was $48 million. The governor proposed $32 million of those funds to be used to fund the SAFE Grants.

In the opinion re-filed Wednesday justices wrote, “We find there is no clear congressional intent in the education provisions of the CARES Act to allow the Governor to allocate the GEER funds in his discretion in contravention of our State Constitution.”

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