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February19

A subsidy for non-public school scholarships?

A bill opening the door for the funding of non-public school scholarships is headed to the Senate floor, but will do so without recommendation from the committee that held its hearing.

 

Senate Education committee members were split 3-3 on a do pass motion on Senate Bill 189, but voted 6-0 to send the bill to floor without recommendation. The committee decided to move it to the Senate floor for resolution because there was not a deciding vote and, if passed, the bill must be out of its original chamber by Feb. 25.

 

SB 189 would provide a tax credit to insurance companies contributing money to an organization that provides funding to cover the cost of a student enrolling in a private school and for instructional supply grants for teachers, including home school providers.

 

SB 189 would “expand school choice” according to Sen. Phyllis Heineman, the bill’s prime sponsor. Six representatives from an association representing private schools were in attendance to support the bill.

 

DOE Director of Finance Tami Darnall said the bill could remove up to $4 million from state funds. Mitch Ricther, lobbyist for the South Dakota United School Association, noted a $4 million dollar loss in funding for schools would equate to $30 per-student in lost funding.

 

“It is a fiscal impact,” Sen. Deb Soholt said, adding the indirect result of the bill would be general fund dollars being used for a private entity.

 

Sen. Bruce Rampelberg cited his discomfort with the bill came from the decrease in public dollars and the potential to set in a motion a potentially problematic practice.

 

“I wonder if we’re setting precedent that could come back to bit use in the future,” Sen. Rampelberg said.

 

ASBSD opposes the bill. For updates on SB 189, check the ASBSD Blog, Bill Tracker page and Twitter feed.

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