This afternoon members of the House of Representatives began the debate on the proposed half cent increase to the state sales tax – House Bill 1182 – that will provide school districts the new, ongoing revenue source desperately needed to attract and retain our teachers.
The debate, however, was cut short when members of the House invoked a legislative rule – Joint Rule 5-17 – that allows them to defer discussion on a bill for one non-concurrent legislative day, if one-fifth of the members support the request. One attempt to amend the bill failed and another awaits review.
House Bill 1182 is scheduled to be heard again in the House on Tuesday, February 16. Joint Rule 5-17 is allowed to be called for twice, meaning it is still possible it could be used on Tuesday and additional debate would be taken up on Thursday (2/18).
Representatives in support of sales tax increase had a brief period to state their case for bill, with Rep. Jackie Sly, a sponsor and Co-Chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force, advocating that “state sales tax was the most proven, stable and has potential for the most growth” of any available funding option.
The half-cent increase would generate more than $60 million in new revenue next year for school districts to put towards raising teacher salaries AND would provide $40 million in property tax relief.
Rep. Sly also noted South Dakota has ranked last in teacher pay for more than two decades and “gap’s getting wider.”
“This is an emergency,” Rep. Lee Schoenbeck said to members on the floor. “It needs to be addressed now.”
Between now and Tuesday leaves a good amount of time to contact legislators in your area and urge them to support the sales tax increase. You can find a list of upcoming legislative cracker barrels here and contact information for Representatives and Senators by clicking each link.
“There are more than 800 school board members, who are elected officials, just like legislators, and we need to let them know our schools need this new, ongoing revenue source,” ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany said.
“Contact your legislators and let them know school board members support this proposal.”
The House Gallery was filled with supporters from the education and business communities – nearly 20 individuals testified in favor HB 1182 at its committee hearing – further stressing the importance of the situation.
“We’re grateful for the school board members, and every supporter, who came today,” Pogany said.
“They know there is no viable second option for improving teacher pay. South Dakota’s public schools need this, and only this, proposal to pass.”
Board members and administrators are encouraged to join ASBSD at the Capitol any day next week to advocate for the bill and watch the proceedings.