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February21

Crossover Day comes and bills go – Senate

Members of the House and Senate discussed, debated and acted on a number of bills well into the evening hours on Wednesday, which marked Crossover Day. All bills still in their original house had to be passed or tabled by the end of the day.

 

A long list of legislation related to K-12 education littered the docket in both houses. Here’s a rundown of those bills from the Senate:

 

Senate Bill 28: Adjusts property tax levies for the general fund of a school district.

 

Just one day after being amended by the Senate Appropriations committee to include the proposed special education levy increase, SB 28 saw another change on the Senate floor.

 

The recent change to the bill returns it to its original form and ONLY includes the property tax levy changes for the general fund.  Sen. Mark Kirkeby (35) introduced the amendment, saying that each fund’s levy “should be standing on their own two feet.”

 

SB 28’s adjustment to the property tax levies acts as the mechanism for the proposed three percent increase in state aid for schools and if not passed the increase would be jeopardized.

 

The amended version of the bill passed on a 29-4 vote. ASBSD is monitoring the bill.

 

Senate Bill 15: Adjusts property tax levies for the special education fund of a school district and allows the use of 15 percent of special education fund dollars for special services.

 

Like its counterpart SB 28, Senate Bill 15 received a facelift on the Senate floor. The bill was amended to include the proposed property tax levy increases for the special education fund added.

 

The tax levy for special education would be raised by $0.15, with the maximum level set at $1.552 per thousand dollars of taxable valuation and the state aid qualifying level at $1.352. The levies are being raised to account for an increase in SPED students and set a state-to-local effort ratio at approximately 39-61 percent.

 

Sen. Deb Peters (9), the Senate Appropriations committee chair, said if SB 15 did not pass “the state will have to kick in the entire” amount of shortfall for special education.

 

In addition to the levy increase, SB 15 allows school districts to use up to 15 percent of their special education fund dollars to identify K-12 students who need additional academic and behavioral interventions and caps the Extraordinary Cost Fund at $5.5 million.

 

The bill passed on a 24-9 vote. ASBSD is monitoring the bill.

 

Senate Bill 233: Establishes the critical needs teaching scholarship program for student’s looking to enter the teaching profession in a critical needs curriculum area and stay in South Dakota after completing their degree. There is $1 attached to the bill.

 

Sen. Chuck Welke (2) said the bill would have a “band aid effect” and would not make strides in recruiting and keeping teachers in South Dakota. Sen. Welke proposed the dollars should be put towards increasing teacher salaries.

 

SB 233 originally had $5 million attached to it in order establish a trust fund for the program.  Sen. Tim Rave (25), the bill’s sponsor, said the $5 million would provide 15 scholarships. Rave said the 15 scholarships provided were “not enough… but it’s a start.”

 

SB 233 passed on a 29-4 vote. ASBSD is monitoring the bill.

 

Senate Bill 159: Provides school districts with an increase in state aid for each Limited English Proficiency student enrolled in the district. Initially the bill provided a 25 percent increase in state aid, but an amendment was introduced and passed that lowered the increase to 1 percent.

 

Sen. Jim White (22), the bill’s sponsor, said the decrease was temporary until legislators have a better idea of available funding towards the end of session.

 

The bill passed on a 31-2 vote. ASBSD supports the bill.

 

Senate Bill 180: Requires the publication of the total dollar amount of local government employees’ benefits – this group includes public school employees. Bill sponsor Sen. Corey Brown (23) said the bill shows taxpayers “what the total cost” of local government employees is.

 

An amendment to SB 180 requires the information be published in a designated newspaper. In the bill’s previous version, local government entities could publish the list online.

 

SB 180 passed on a 28-5 vote. ASBSD is opposed to the bill.

 

Senate Bill 136: Appropriates funding for the state aid education formula. Currently, SB 136 is a vehicle bill for school funding and has no dollar amount attached.

 

“I think most members of this body would like to see us get a little bit more money for K-12 education,” Sen. Tim Rave (25) said during the bill’s hearing on the floor. Sen. Rave added the bill would be utilized when financial projections for the state were solidified.

 

SB 136 passed on a 33-0 vote. ASBSD is monitoring the bill.

 

Senate Bill 76: Appropriates funding for Education Service Agencies. There is $1 attached to the bill. ESAs would have to apply to the Department of Education to receive the funds.

 

SB 76 passed on a 29-4 vote. ASBSD is monitoring the bill.

 

Senate Bill 229: Appropriates one-time dollars from the general fund to school districts for Career and Technical Education programs. There is $1 attached to the bill.

 

SB 229 passed on a 33-0 vote. ASBSD is opposed to the bill.

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