Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Daugaard's denial of disbursement disappoints Dems

South Dakota's autocrat Republican governor has unveiled his party's budget request. The proposal omits additional resources for teacher pay and the expansion of the state's Medicaid program as part of the Affordable Care Act, not priorities for the GOP-dominated legislature but important to Democrats.
South Dakota has the lowest average teacher salaries in the nation, and lags significantly behind all neighboring states. The closest is North Dakota, where public school teachers earned about $8,700 more a year, on average. With teacher openings going unfilled and candidate pools in the single digits, education groups are pushing lawmakers to close the teacher pay gap. Organizations such as the Associated School Boards of South Dakota and the School Administrators of South Dakota have proposed a one-cent summer sales tax hike to pay for higher salaries, in anticipation of the upcoming legislative session. "We're hoping to have a lot of discussion throughout this session on teacher pay," SASD Executive Director Rob Monson said. Polls show voters would support such a plan. However, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Tuesday he probably wouldn't, after presenting his budget plans. [Patrick Anderson, Sioux Falls Argus Leader]
Incoming Senate Minority Leader Billie Sutton said that he's disappointed the governor didn't specifically highlight the issues. Sutton is concerned that Republicans are leaving too much federal money on the table.

Senator-elect Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton says education still has not recovered from the cut of 2011; he is also concerned about the use of one time dollars.
Rep. Scott Parsley, D-Madison, said the committee should find out what the governor’s proposed repeal of interest pro-ration will accomplish and whether the results are worth the governor’s estimated cost of $3.8 million for the change. The Legislative Research Council fiscal staff will spend the next month preparing for a special meeting of the committee on Jan. 5-6. There will be technical briefings that afternoon and morning in advance of the session that opens Jan. 13. [Bob Mercer, Aberdeen American News]
Read Madville Times assessment here and listen to more interviews at WNAX.

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