Entries Tagged 'Education funding' ↓

When are SD Republican lawmakers going to realize public education is an investment for ALL OF US

Maybe I should ask for a property tax rebate since I don’t have any children or ever intend to?

Parents who home-school or send their children to private school save fellow South Dakota taxpayers more than $50 million a year, and 28 lawmakers think it’s time to give some of that money back.

House Bill 1173 proposes property tax rebates to offset the cost of private school tuition or home-school materials and resources. The benefit would be capped at 80 percent of the per-student allocation — around $3,700 next year per child — so most qualifying families would end up paying no property taxes to public education.

When are people going to realize that investing in education is a universal benefit?

Rob Monson, executive director of School Administrators of South Dakota, said taxpayers shouldn’t be able to get out of a tax just because they don’t directly benefit from the service.

“There are certain things that you pay taxes for that are for the betterment of all,” he said.

Well, Rob, that is not how Republicans think. If they are not directly profiting or benefitting from something, they believe they are being ripped off, even though, they do have the choice to put their kids in public school. As one of my friends said to me about putting his four kids through public school as opposed to private. “I’m paying dearly in property taxes, I am going to take full advantage of the public school system.”

Big ‘T’ gets out her message of sub teacher pay raises today

(Image: KELO-TV screenshot)

This of course is the real story in Stormland today, the grunts in the trenches, not the millionaires at press conferences kissing T. Denny Sanford’s ass when he didn’t even bother to show up;

“We are hoping to give the substitutes a voice within the district and get the same treatment as every other entity,” Theresa Stehly said.

Stehly is leading the initiative. She says substitute teachers haven’t seen a raise in six years while teachers and other employees have. She doesn’t believe the district is listening to their needs but thinks they’ll have a voice in numbers.

Of course, it didn’t stop another credit card company lackey, who happens to sit on the school board, talk about the ‘merit’ of a sub teacher pay;

“In this coming budget cycle we’ll look at substitute teacher pay again if it merits it we’ll act on an increase, maybe, for substitutes,” Morrison said.

Tragic, coming from a man who works for a company that got a taxpayer bailout while the execs in his company live high on the hog. Go away.


Hunhoff slams Daily Republic for praising the governor for budget surplus

From SD Alliance for Progress;

By Representative Bernie Hunhoff

A recent Daily Republic editorial proclaimed “good news” that our state finished the fiscal year with a $47 million surplus. Yes, $47 million is good, but there’s no news there.

We’ve balanced our budgets in South Dakota since statehood. That’s 123 straight years. And in recent years we haven’t even come close to being in the red. State government is awash in cash. We now have $134 million in official reserves, plus another $725 million in trust funds and as of right now it looks like we could see millions more in surplus for the current fiscal year.

Remember, news happens when a man bites a dog. News is when we don’t balance the budget. Our state constitution requires it.

The real news is this latest confirmation that we unnecessarily slashed school spending by $52 million, and when the federal government sent $26 million the Pierre bureaucracy kept that in their own coffers. Then we slashed spending for children’s health programs, nursing homes and hospitals.

Frugality is a virtue. But we’ve taken it to the extreme in South Dakota. At some point it becomes a vice — like a well-to-do father who won’t buy shoes for his kids.

Despite a guise of frugality, the current administration has started a litany of new programs — many of them for big corporations. One example is the Manpower program that will spend $5 million to help a few companies recruit

workers from out-of-state. That’s what often happens with exorbitant surpluses: they are reclassified as one-time monies and then spent in areas that are low priority, if necessary at all. Thus, frugality turns into waste.

Meanwhile, state government’s share of education spending has dropped precipitously over the last decade, and is now the lowest in the nation in relation to local spending from property taxes. The 49 other state governments contribute an average of 43 percent of their schools’ budgets. In South Dakota, the state’s share has dropped below 30 percent — lowest in the nation — yet we have hundreds of millions in trust funds, excess cash accounts and reserves.

The age-old line from the Pierre bureaucracy is that we dare not risk an adequate investment in education because disaster could be lurking — a flood, a forest fire, beetles, drought or recession. But our penny-pinching has caused a disaster for schools, for property taxpayers in South Dakota and for many community health care facilities.

Your editorial board accused me of playing politics with the “good” budget news this week. I suppose anything can be construed as politics — giving your wife flowers on her birthday, for example. But the only reason many of us are even involved in politics is because we want to improve the lives of South Dakotans.

Is your life better because the state salted away tens of millions of your tax dollars rather than making smart investments in health care and education and keeping property taxes down?

Bernie Hunhoff, a Democrat from Yankton, is the state House minority leader.


Some things to consider when voting on HB1234

A representative from Online Universities recently sent me this informative piece about merit pay in education, worth the read while we are considering the fate of HB1234 in November;

2012′s election cycle means, no matter what, the two most prominent candidates are likely to start pushing merit-based pay for American educators. Provided they don’t alter their platforms based on polling data and special interest support, anyways. But research on such a structure, which — at its simplest — sees raises and bonuses doled out based on how well students perform, unearths mixed results. It works in some places, doesn’t in others, and teacher’s unions find it a deplorable practice. Sometimes. Informed voters should know exactly what the system entails, and what sort of studies and experiments exist showcasing the various outcomes. The following are a nice place to get started.


Merit Pay for teachers. Ask Cory what he thinks of it.


Stormland-TV must have forgotten the passion of my blogger compadre, Mr. Madville. He unleashes his education views on them.

He also has a great post about young conservatives in love(?). I wonder if Jenna has moved out of her parent’s basement yet? Maybe she could rent the ‘SPICE’ storeroom at ‘Roll with It’ smokeshop since it will be empty here in a few days.

Governor Daugaard, “F’ck Education, we need money for handouts to foreign corporations.”

Government Cheese?

Who does the governor think he is buffaloing? They continue with the same old argument to bring in new business to SD;

The governor said that to persuade Bel Brands to invest in Brookings, the state had to offer a mix of economic incentives from the Large Project Development Fund while it still exists, and from the new incentive program that’s future is now in doubt because of the referred law.

Bullcrap. Use your brain.

1) The dairy program at SDSU helps with research

2) There is NO state income tax on corporations

3) South Dakota workers are more productive and work for less then their peers (not that this is a good thing for workers in our state, but an incentive for companies to come here.)

I get so tired of this crap that we need to GIVE taxpayer dollars to foreign companies to lure them here, then turn around and defund education and wonder why out-of-state companies have trouble getting skilled workers from within the state . . . hmm. Ever think that some companies don’t want to come to SD because of the lack of skilled labor? I’m just saying.

Now that Republicans in SD have ransacked public education funding on all levels, what’s next?

The Repugs managed to succeed at all levels, governor’s office, the legislature and now our courts;

In upholding the constitutionality of the state’s school funding system, a unanimous South Dakota Supreme Court said Thursday it isn’t convinced that the money appropriated for schools is inadequate or that more money would produce higher test scores and graduation rates.

Of course, this ruling has to do with timing, they were ruling on the funding setup before the state cut education by 6.6%. Of course our governor is in a state of denial when it comes to funding education;

“I am pleased with this opinion because the appropriate place to determine school funding is the Legislature, not the courts,” Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in a written statement. “I believe we should focus on student achievement, not spending, as the best measure of educational success. That approach is very consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision.”

Yeah, let’s keep cutting education and watch those test scores soar . . . .

Abdallah thinks he’d succeed with that argument today. The Legislature balanced its budgets by freezing per-student funding last year and cutting it by 6.6 percent this year. “Although the court didn’t find that the system was unconstitutional at the time of the trial … I seriously doubt that our current system would survive this type of analysis,” Abdallah said.

But it doesn’t stop one Republican lawmaker from crying about how we need to just let him do his job;

The five-year legal battle has frustrated some observers, including Sen. Mark Johnston, R-Sioux Falls, who said he’s “very upset” that a majority of the state’s school districts would pay for a lawsuit against the state. “The Supreme Court has spoken that it’s our job as legislators to fund schools,” he said.

So Mark, when you going to start doing your job? I hardly think cutting education by 6.6% when there is $800 million sitting in an investment fund to pick up the slack is DOING YOUR JOB, in fact, you and your party should be charged with child neglect, that would be a more appropriate lawsuit.

But there was one small victory from this lawsuit;

While the lawsuit was pending, the state threatened to audit the coalition of school districts, taking the position that it’s illegal for them to finance a lawsuit against the state. When school officials asked for a judge’s declaration that they can sue, Wilbur agreed with the state; but in that case, a unanimous Supreme Court overturned Wilbur’s decision.

Of course, Repugs bring back the tired old argument;

House Republican leader David Lust of Rapid City said Thursday that most people think school funding should be up to the governor and the Legislature. If the public disapproves of the way the Legislature pays school districts, he said, voters can make a change by electing new legislators.

Good luck with that, your party has a stranglehold on the public because of your bullshit ‘lower taxes’ campaign slogans, and the fact that most (but not all) Democrats in the legislature are a bit timid, except one;

House Democratic leader Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton, a supporter of increased state aid to schools, said he agrees that funding decisions must be made in the Legislature. The lawsuit was filed only because parents and school district officials are frustrated with lawmakers, he said.

Exactly. They sit around and talk about guns and vaginas. Instead of legislating how life may begin or end, why not legislate what happens in between, part of that is providing a good education and investing in our youth. But hey, that reality makes sense, and reality is something Repugs in this state can’t grasp.



While education trust funds gain millions last year, SD Repugs continue to peddle the lie

High School dropout? No problem, you are still qualified to make croutons.

While this is good news;

The South Dakota Retirement System ended its latest financial year with $1.6 billion more than it had a year ago, the result of robust investment earnings. That will allow a larger increase in pension payments next summer, officials said Monday.

I applaud the state for prudent investing, but the real story here is in the last sentence of this article;

Clark told lawmakers that trust funds supporting education and health care programs also grew by more than 20 percent last year.

So the trust funds grew that much, but we had to cut education by 6%? It just doesn’t add up. Investment funds are for rainy day situations, governor, it’s time to stop beating education to a pulp. Education is an investment into the future. But maybe DooGard has revealed his true intentions, dumb people work cheap;

“We’re out there just trying to promote South Dakota and the business environment we have, the positive business environment — tax structure, low regulation, high productivity workforce — it’s something we’re not afraid to tell people,” (Pat Costello) he said.

That’s because South Dakotans know they must work twice as hard (physically) to get anywhere in life due to the lack of good education programs.

Call me crazy, but I have often felt Republicans in this state have starved education for years to stay in control and to keep our workforce dumbed down. You have to pay smart people more money.

Now shut up and go make some croutons!


This was originally posted on sdallianceforprogress.com. I thought it was relevant and decided to post the entire article.

By BERNIE HUNHOFF | Contributor

“Disgusted.” That’s what Governor Daugaard told the Yankton Press & Dakotan newspaper he felt (in its July 21 issue) when South Dakotans collected over 23,000 petition signatures so we can all vote on whether your tax dollars should be used for more corporate tax breaks.

Disgusted? There are lots of things to be disgusted about in politics today, but petitioning for a statewide discussion on economic development would be way down on my list.

I’m disgusted because state funding for schools has dropped so low that it leaves communities like Yankton bickering over whether we should raise our property taxes.

I’m disgusted that we lost tens of millions of dollars in matching money for Medicaid because of poor budget decisions in Pierre. The result? Less health care services for poor children and the elderly.

I’m disgusted that we are raising college and tech school tuition as much as 8%, and that we’re the only state without assistance for students from low-income families.

South Dakota is a great state, but a lot of our public policies disgust me.

Another wrong-headed policy is the notion that we should rebate some of the contractor’s excise tax (which otherwise goes to the general fund for schools and health care) to big corporations who plan projects of $5 million and above, at the discretion of the governor’s office. It would replace a current program that was revealed to be a boondoggle before being terminated by the legislature in 2010 because it cost too much.

The governor’s staff told the P&D that 80% or more of the new rebates will go to wind and ethanol programs. They say that now because wind and ethanol has popular support, but nothing in the state law guarantees that and it’s unlikely to occur. TransCanada Pipeline, a major competitor to wind and ethanol, has been one of the beneficiaries in the past.

This newest tax give-away program might cost even more than the one we killed in 2010, and it comes at a time when the general fund is already strapped from the recession.

The administration says the program will pay for itself through increased sales and property taxes. If that’s the case, let’s end the contractor’s excise altogether and then the state’s coffers will grow even more.

Let’s end the tax for farmers who build a machine shed or barn. Let’s end it for

the family-owned car dealership under construction north of Yankton. Let’s end it for the two women who tore down an old building on Howard’s main street and built a new coffee shop and eatery. Let’s rebate it for the entrepreneurs who restored the old bank building on Vermillion’s Main Street into a fine steakhouse.

Let’s end it for every businessman and farmer. But let’s not let government pick winners and losers. If big projects get a rebate, Main Street should qualify for the same. Everyone should be treated alike when it comes to taxation.

We all know that raising well-educated and healthy children is the best investment a government can make in economic development and the future. We’ve cut those priorities in recent years, and no community knows it better than Yankton, where we’re now seeking charitable contributions for extra-curricular activities.

So if the administration wants to write rebate checks to big companies, it should find an appropriate funding source. Don’t take even more resources away from schools and our poorest families.


In South Dakota, a veto referendum on tax revenues is officially cleared for the 2012 ballot. The veto referendum tackles HB 1230, which would dedicate part of tax revenues for grants to some business projects in the state. Specifically, if the law is not repealed, starting on January 1, 2013, a 22 percent portion of contractor-excise tax revenues would allocated to a “large project fund”. The state Board of Economic Development would then decide which specific projects would be qualified to receive grants from that large fund. Reports say that the law requires the projects to be at least $5 million in size. Submitted signatures were verified on July 18, 2011. However, the measure was not officially certified for the ballot at that time.



Here we go again, the bleeding heart liberals want education funding while the Repugs don’t want to pay for it. Their compromise? A sales tax increase;

A group of advocates for health care providers and public schools is moving forward with plans to initiate a ballot measure that would permanently raise the state sales tax by 1 cent.

Motivated by deep cuts in state spending during the past legislative session, the coalition polled likely voters on their appetite for a sales tax increase to pay for state services.

This is misguided for a number of reasons, and I will give you the basics;

• The money exists to fund education already. Over $800 million sits in an investment fund specifically for rainy day situations, but the Repugs in the state would rather give massive tax cuts to corporations instead of spending that money on education. It is idiotic to raise taxes when we simply just need the legislature to authorize spending these funds.

• Sales taxes are regressive, they affect the working class and poor more then the rich. It is NEVER a good idea to raise sales taxes, especially to fund education (which is traditionally funded by property taxes).

• Let’s say the investment fund did not exist. Fine. Why not start a petition drive to have a state income tax on households making over $100,000 a year? Or taxing advertising, or even better yet, a corporate income tax? People say any of these things are job killers. Bullshit. Corporations set up shop in SD because they can get away with paying shit wages. It has nothing to do with taxes.

• Healthcare costs are over the top. There needs to be healthcare reform instead of continuing to feed this monster with more tax increases.

Instead of tax increases, a more prudent thing to do is to encourage legislators and the governor to tap into the investment fund. I would also suggest we do some house cleaning in Pierre.