The final day of the fifth week of the 2014 legislative session proved difficult for K-12 education.
HB 1003 would have set the annual index factor increase for education funding at a minimum of two percent. Proponents of the bill said it provided school districts with funding stability.
“(School boards) really can’t entertain…any long term planning,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said. “(HB 1003) gives us just a little bit more stability. We think that’s reasonable.”
The legislature has provided a two percent increase in funding to schools in eight of the last 10 fiscal years, with only the freeze and 8.6 percent cut being the outliers.
“We’ve always been over two percent, save for two years,” Rep. Lance Carson said. “I have a problem when we put a guarantee on it.”
Rep. Don Haggar said the guarantee of two percent was doable for schools.
“This is a statement I think we can make,” Rep. Haggar said.
HB 1004 would have set the per-student allocation for 2014-15 at $4,805, which was the PSA’s pre-cut highpoint.
“We need your help,” Pogany implored the committee. “Keep this discussion going.”
Terwilliger argued the bill would be “upside down” in Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s budget, which pledged three percent to school districts.
Pogany reiterated a point he made during the bill’s hearing in front of the House Education committee: the education funding burden is falling on local tax payers.
“From the point of the cuts in 2011 to today, the opt-outs have grown. We’re shifting (the funding) burden on to tax payers,” he said. “This shift is significant.”
From 2010, the year prior to the cuts, to 2014 the total dollar amount of opt-outs utilized by districts has increased by $9 million and the percentage of districts of with opt-outs has increased from 36 percent to 44 percent.
Despite the defeat of each bill, there remains five “vehicle” bills, which act as a placeholders for potential legislation up to the final day of session, related to education and other pieces of legislation that could support the funding concepts of HB 1003 or 1004.
“We’ll continue on with our message to provide funding stability to schools and help us recoup what we lost in the cuts,” Pogany said.