2023 ASBSD Billtracker Update: One voucher bill down, one upcoming, contact your Reps
Two school voucher bills were introduced for the 2023 legislative session and are posted on ASBSD’s Billtracker page, with one having recently been defeated and another with a legislative committee hearing upcoming.
You can read about the taxation bills & revenue here, the juvenile justice bills here, the bills that are moving on here and the bills that have been defeated here.
Senate Bill 100: Creates a scholarship program utilizing public funds for private education and other services. ASBSD opposed the bill, which was defeated by the Senate Education Committee on a 4-2 vote.
“Did you hear in any of the proponent testimony that the public schools are failing the foster care children?” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany asked committee members. “The assumption that’s made is private schools are always the answer.”
Laura Ringling, Gov. Noem’s Senior Policy Advisor, told committee members “at any given time, there are roughly 1,000 school aged youth” in DSS custody with “most of our youth in foster care are attending public schools” while adding “this money does not belong to the (public) schools.”
Pogany cited Article 8, Section 16 of South Dakota’s state constitution prohibits “public support of sectarian education” and the bill “is pretty clear” that “these are general fund dollars” being diverted to private education.
House Bill 1234: Creates a voucher program to provide public funds for private education. ASBSD is opposing the bill, which is scheduled for its House Education committee hearing on Wednesday, February 15. You can listen to the hearing here: https://www.sd.net/room413/.
Even if defeated in committee, the bill will most likely be smoked-out on the House floor in an attempt to keep it alive in the legislative process and you can communicate to your Representatives the following points of opposition:
- Violates Article 8, Section 16 of South Dakota’s state constitution, which states, “Public support of sectarian instruction prohibited” while the bill instructs the state Department of Education to “forward the authorized amount directly to the nonpublic school.”
- Erodes funding for public schools and adds a new program to the state budget when state funding is currently not funding public schools adequately with South Dakota ranking 50th in the nation in teacher pay and schools are facing rising costs of goods and services due to inflation being 15% higher than it was two years ago.
- South Dakota’s public school system has added more than 12,000 students in the past 10 years whereas private school enrollment has decreased by approximately 1,000 students in the same time period.
- South Dakota’s public schools serve ALL students while private schools can choose which students to admit.
- There is no public oversight for how public tax dollars are used by private schools like there is with public school boards and the state laws they must abide by when receiving public funds.
- Private schools have local and systemwide scholarship, foundation and endowment programs that can be utilized by parents and students wishing to enroll in a private school.
Click here to see which members of the House represent your school district and find their contact information here.
For updates on these bills and others from the 2023 legislative session, check the ASBSD Billtracker page and ASBSD Blog.
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