COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – A Senate Education Subcommittee will hold another hearing on a bill that would create ‘education savings accounts’ for some families in South Carolina.

The legislation would allow certain families that take their children out of public school to use taxpayer dollars to cover private school tuition, textbooks, or services for students with disabilities.

According to the bill, students eligible for ESAs would include those in families that earn 200% of the federal poverty level, Medicaid recipients, students enrolled in the South Carolina Early Reading Development and Education Program, or prior Exceptional South Carolina students.

The program would be capped at 5,000 eligible K-3rd grade students the first year. It would phase in more students until the 2026-27 school year when the cap would be removed.

A fiscal impact review of the legislation shows if all eligible students enrolled in the program that year it would flow $2.9 billion to ‘education savings accounts’ from schools.

Similar bills have stalled before in the legislature. Previous versions of the bill included students in military families. Supporters said these scholarships would help families tailor their child’s education to fit their needs. Critics said money shouldn’t be taken away from public schools.

Governor Henry McMaster is backing this program. In his Executive Budget he recommended using $20 million in lottery money to pay for ESAs.

A Senate Education Subcommittee to discuss this bill is scheduled for Wednesday.