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March07

Afternoon Update

Legislators have been locked in conference committee meetings and two different full floor sessions so far today, which has produced interesting developments.

 

Here’s a rundown of conference committee decisions:

 

Senate Bill 15: Conference committee members increased the special education levies to a maximum of $1.552 per thousand dollars of valuation and state aid qualifying level of $1.352. These points were included in the original proposal of SB 15.

 

Senate Bill 28: Committee members moved the commercial levy to $9.20 per thousand dollars of valuation– an increase of $0.572 from last year. The agricultural levy was set at $2.09 – a decrease of $0.23 from last year. The levy for owner occupied property was changed to $4.296 – an increase of $0.267 from last year. The new levies are slightly higher than originally proposed in SB 28.

 

Conference committee reports were approved by the House and must receive final approval by the Senate before heading to Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

 

If each levy bill is approved, K-12 education would likely receive the three percent increase in state aid proposed in the governor’s budget. Administration representatives had warned in prior committee hearing testimony if the levies were changed the increase would be in jeopardy.

 

“This is a really good sign of the dedication legislators have towards improving funding for K-12 education,” Executive Director Wade Pogany said.

 

Senate Bill 235: Conference committee members completed their work from yesterday by agreeing on a $7 million one-time funding start up for the Building South Dakota fund established by the bill and an amendment requiring the state an annual increase for K-12 schools and Medicaid before any dollars are allocated to the fund.

 

Another amendment passed would supply the state aid increase for ELL students, as proposed in the bill, for fiscal years 2014, 2015 and 2016 before transferring the increase to the general fund.

 

Approval of the committee report and the bill by both houses still remains.

 

House Bill 1239: Committee members voted to remove the Senate’s amendment to appropriate funds to the Board of Regents to cover the increase to employee health insurance costs.

 

HB 1239 was reverted to the version that passed House, which would authorize school districts to set a tax levy at 30 cents per thousand dollars of taxable valuation for pension and health insurance funding purposes.

 

There remains an uphill battle for HB 1239 as it must be approved by Senators, who voted 28-5 to amend it on Tuesday.

 

For updates on these bills, check the ASBSD blog and bill tracker.

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