The South Carolina Education Association is calling on county governments to include school boards in discussions about economic development going forward.
SOUTH CAROLINA, USA – A new report from Good Jobs First has found that schools in South Carolina have lost $2.2 billion over the past five years, which was instead spent on tax breaks for businesses. The nonprofit research group found that no other state has reported more lost business school tax revenue than South Carolina.
“It really infuriates me as a teacher that you say you can’t give me a raise or you can’t afford to fix the air conditioning in a county, but you give a company millions of dollars to come to our state to set up a store, but you don’t take care of the people who take care of your children,” said South Carolina Education Association President Sherry East. “We give the money to these businesses who move here and they don’t pay some of their taxes that would normally go into school revenue.”
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South Carolina gives counties the power to provide tax breaks in an effort to help the local economy, but Good Jobs First found local school districts were losing the most.
“The biggest loser in this transaction is the school district,” said executive director Greg LeRoy.
He doesn’t believe tax incentives really attract business. Instead, he said a strong workforce and quality of life, which includes a great education system, matter more.
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“If a state allows counties to underfund schools, to divest schools, you’re really shooting yourself in the foot,” LeRoy said. “You are hurting your business climate.”
The nonpartisan organization’s report found that the Chester County School District loses, on average, more than $1,000 per student per year in tax abatements. The nonprofit organization’s analysis of state records found revenue losses there had more than tripled since 2017. Voters recently rejected a referendum on compulsory education in Chester County for the third consecutive time.
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South Carolina has remained aggressive in suspending tax breaks to hire businesses. East, a science teacher at Rock Hill High School, said she understands the need to attract businesses at the county level. However, it requires more transparency and control.
“Let’s hold them accountable,” she said. “We need to check these companies. After 10 years, did they do what they said they would do?”
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East is also asking counties to include school boards in economic development discussions going forward.
“It’s costing the kids in South Carolina,” East said of the status quo.
WCNC Charlotte repeatedly tried to give Chester County Supervisor Dr. Wylie Frederick the chance to justify the county’s economic development decision-making, but three emails and a phone call went unanswered. answer.
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