Funding increase for private school scholarship program advances
The inevitable increase in funding for the private school scholarship program has proceeded in the legislature.
Senate Bill 71, which increases the private school scholarship fund total to $3.5 million form $2 million, passed the Senate Education committee on 5-1 vote and the Senate on a 27-5 vote.
Implemented in 2016, the private school scholarship program, which is funded by donations from insurance companies who receive a credit from the insurance company premium and annuity tax, had a $2 million cap on the total amount of funding available. However, in the six years since its introduction, the program has seen three legislative adjustments and a funding increase request always loomed.
ASBSD opposes the bill through Association resolution B5. Private School Scholarship Program.
Executive Director Wade Pogany noted during his committee hearing testimony the question might be why the opposition to a perceived small amount of money to which he cited that $2 million currently turns into $3.5 million next year and “it’s going to be $5 million” asked for in the future.
Proponents of the bill told committee members the program issued $2.2 million in scholarship funds for the 2021-22 school year.
The $2.2 million award exceeded the $2 million available in annual donations, which program architect, former state Sen. Phyllis Heinemann, who currently serves on the S.D. Board of Education Standards, said was “because we carried over” $500,000 from the 2020-21 school year.
The private school scholarship program is allowed to carryover 25 percent of its fund balance each year, but the carryover begs the question of why an increase is needed?
“If we’re going to give more scholarships to children,” Pogany said, “why are (they) asking for more money?”
SB 71 now heads to the House Education committee for review and vote.
For updates on the bill and the 2022 legislative session, check the ASBSD Blog and Bill Tracker page.
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