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March11

Two percent increase bill amended and passed

Change came to the bill providing schools the proposed two percent increase in state aid, but members of the House were confident in their ability to find enough funds for the increase to stay in place.

 

The House voted 66-2 to pass an amended version of Senate Bill 53, which would provide the proposed two percent increase to the state aid formula and bring the per-student allocation to approximately $4,877 for the 2015-16 school year.

 

The amended version of the bill removes the costs of sparsity funding and assessment from the original proposal, but left the cost of technology in the bill.

 

Gov. Dennis Daugaard proposed adding the three costs to the funding formula during his budget address in December. Gov. Daugaard said the addition of the three costs to the funding formula was the mechanism for increasing state aid from the statutorily required 1.5 percent to two percent.

 

Rep. Jim Bolin, who introduced today’s amendment, said the addition of sparsity and assessment to the formula was “fundamentally wrong” because inclusion in the formula means taxpayers share the cost.

 

Throughout session it has been noted the formula currently includes the costs of the small school adjustment and limited English proficiency funding thus putting the new additions in line with current practice.

 

Rep. Justin Cronin expressed concern about the removal of sparsity and assessment costs from the proposal, saying that schools would “rather the two percent (increase) in this bill than have it in jeopardy.”

 

There remains much discussion to be had around the two percent increase and other budget related items as appropriators will adopt revenue projections and begin work on the general fund bill – House Bill 1208 – on Wednesday (3/11).

 

Revenue projections were presented to legislative appropriators on Monday (3/9) and came in below what was presented in December.

 

Despite projections, Rep. Bolin said he firmly believed legislators would be able to “find the resources that are necessary” to provide the two percent increase to schools.

 

SB 53 now returns to the Senate for review and could be headed towards one of two options; either a legislative conference committee hearing, which is a review of a bill by a group of Senators and Representatives who attempt to come to compromise, or referral to the Appropriations committee for discussion along with the general fund bill.

 

For updates on SB 53 and the budget process, check the ASBSD Blog, Bill Tracker page and Twitter feed.

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