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February11

Proposed percentage change in cap outlay votes passes comm.

Change may be coming to the capital outlay fund of school districts in larger ways, but a victory was struck for the fund at Wednesday’s (2/11) Senate Local Government committee meeting.

 

Committee members voted 4-3 in favor of Senate Bill 183, which lowers the percentage of supporting votes needed from 60 to 55 percent in elections on capital outlay certificates and bonds.

 

ASBSD supports the bill and during proponent testimony Director of Policy and Legal Services Gerry Kaufman said SB 183 “would assist school districts in building projects.”

 

David Weist of the Department of Revenue testified in opposition of the bill, saying “in isolation” the proposal may not fit with other legislation, but could be considered in a larger encompassment package. Weist also noted the 60 percent approval percentage required voters to take a closer examination of the bond or certificate plan.

 

Sen. Jason Frerichs, SB 183’s prime sponsor, noted a change from 2/3 approval of the voters would be cause for concern, but at lowering the proposed five percent was “very equitable.”

 

Some committee members referred to the recently announced creation of Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s Blue Ribbon Task Force, which will study school funding, student achievement and the teacher shortage, as a more suitable place for discussion of changes to capital outlay.

 

“There’s a lot going on with capital outlay right now,” Sen. Ried Holien said. “To lower a threshold percentage while we’re still very much in the (capital outlay) conversation…I think it would be wrong to slice out one small part.”

 

Much of the education-related conversation during the legislative interim centered around limiting the capital outlay fund’s levy and revenue growth, which Sen. Billie Sutton referenced as potentially needing to be put on the Blue Ribbon Task Force’s agenda if the proposed change in SB 183 needed to be.

 

“We’re going to have to seriously look at some of these type of options to give an out to schools,” Sen. Sutton said.

 

The bill now moves to the Senate floor for review and vote. For updates on the bill, check the ASBSD Blog, Bill Tracker page and Twitter feed.

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