South Dakota doesn’t need to establish a goal to guide
education funding decisions, members of the House State Affairs Committee said
The decision came following public testimony on HB 1110, a
bill that requires the state to work toward elevating public school funding to
the surrounding state average. Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, D-Yankton, pitched the plan
as a way for legislators to make sure the state’s education system can compete
with neighboring states. The goal wouldn’t be binding, Rep. Hunhoff said, but
it would give something the state “to shoot for.”
Tami Darnall, a representative from the South Dakota
Department of Education, testified in opposition to the bill. She called the
plan “unrealistic” and estimated the bill would cost the state more than $200
million. She told lawmakers that it’s important to set goals, but suggested that
legislators should focus on setting goals for student achievement, not education funding.
“More funding has not been proven to come out in student
achievement,” Darnall said, pointing out that South Dakota outperforms other
states that provide less funding for public schools.
Rep. Chuck Turbiville, R-Spearfish, voted to kill the
measure. He said lawmakers set a goal each session to provide schools with as
much as the state can afford.
The measure failed on a 9-2 vote.