School choice bill advanced without approval

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- South Carolina legislators have advanced a bill that would use tax credits to help parents send their children to private school, but did not vote the issue up or down.

      A Senate panel voted 5-1 to move the debate to the full Education Committee. The unusual vote did not signify the subcommittee approved of the bill.

      The idea has died repeatedly in the Legislature. Budget advisers estimate the latest version would save the state $2 million in the first year, but cost $6 million in the second year. The state's net loss would increase yearly to $133 million in 13 years.

      Advocates of the measure question the state economists' figures.

      The proposal would provide scholarships for poor students and tax credits to parents who can afford to pay tuition upfront.

      (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)