After some debate, it was decided the manner in which schools would receive a two percent increase in state aid proposed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard had to pass.
Senators voted 26-7 and Representatives 48-18 to pass Senate Bill 53, which provides the proposed two percent increase to the state aid formula and brings the per-student allocation to approximately $4,877 for the 2015-16 school year.
Members of each chamber met in conference committee on Thursday (3/12) and voted to return SB 53 to its original form, which includes rolling the costs of sparsity funding, assessment and technology in schools into the state aid formula.
The conference committee’s action was a result of Tuesday’s (3/10) House vote to amend the bill by removing sparsity funding and assessment costs from the formula.
The inclusion of the three costs was the mechanism by which Gov. Daugaard used to increase the state aid from the statutorily required 1.5 percent to two percent.
Opponents from both chambers objected to the inclusion of the costs into the formula because they felt it placed an additional burden on the state’s property taxpayers, who fund approximately 47 percent of the state aid formula through local effort.
Sen. Deb Peters said if the legislature wished to provide schools with the proposed increase this was the method needed to do so.
“We had no other special way to it. We do have to make a choice,” Sen. Peters said. “If we want schools to get two percent (increase)…this is our mechanism.”
Both chambers also passed Senate Bill 54, which provides the proposed increase in state aid for schools, changes the maximum level of the special education tax levy, adjusts the funding for disability levels and adds the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to local need calculation at the statewide level.
SB 53 and 54 now head to Gov. Daugaard for final adoption.