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February25

Appropriations defers actions

Two bills that could impact K-12 education funding had hearings in House Appropriations this morning, but no action was taken.

 

House Appropriators held a lengthy discussion among themselves and those who testified on Senate Bill 28, which adjusts property tax levies for the general fund of a school district. The discussion centered on the bill’s purpose, changes to the levies and future funding discussions.

 

SB 28 is the main vehicle for providing school districts with the proposed three percent increase to state aid. The bill would even out the state-to-local effort for funding education.

 

“If Senate Bill 28 failed…then the per-student allocation would have to be cut,” State Economist Jim Terwilliger testified.

 

The fate of the bill seems safe for passage, but changes to the levies to potentially make them more equal is up for discussion. SB 28 sets the commercial levy at $9.163, up $0.535, decreases the agricultural levy by $0.24, to $2.082, and increases the owner-occupied levy by $0.25, up to $4.279.

 

Sen. Stan Adelstein introduced an amendment calling for the owner-occupied, commercial and agriculture levies more equal in proportion, which failed on a voice vote, but stirred conversation among appropriators and testifiers.

 

“There may be some broader questions we ask about how we balance funding for education,” S.D. Chamber of Commerce and Industry President David Owen said.

 

ASBSD Executive Director broached the subject of a long term funding solution for schools in his testimony, noting the difficulty schools are having in preparing for the future.

 

“We need to have a long term discussion because school districts need to be able to plan for the future,” Pogany said. “(Schools) are still in a financial crisis. I’m hopeful the appropriators can look for a long term solution.”

 

CTE Funding

 

House appropriators also deferred a decision on a bill that would appropriate funds for CTE programs.

 

Senate Bill 229 currently has a $1 dollar attached to it, but the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Billie Sutton (21), would like to see $1.5 million provided for the programs. Funding from the bill would not be ongoing and Sen. Sutton said he envisions funds being distributed through a competitive grant process.

 

House Appropriators deferred a similar bill to the 41st legislative day a week ago. ASBSD is opposed to the bill because it would remove general fund dollars that school districts could use at their own discretion.

 

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

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