Rep. Wollman’s reports on legislative week six

By Rep. Wollman

Week 6 of the legislative session is in the books, and I wanted to wait until we took another vote on HB 1182 before writing my summary. After more than two hours last week of strong debate before a packed gallery, we repeated another hour of debate today before the bill was finally passed with exactly 47 votes. The proponents lost one yes vote but picked up two no votes garnishing the exact amount needed to pass. I was very relieved that we were able to gain the votes needed to send 1182 to the Senate.
This previous weekend we also had the legislative cracker barrel in Madison. I want to thank everyone who attended and also thank them for their professional questions and character. There are many contentious issues here in Pierre this year and we don’t always agree on them all. But it is important to still treat each other the way we would like to be treated and I was very happy with how the cracker barrel was attended.
I want to take this moment to answer a few questions that arose from the discussion. One of the questions was why don’t we use video lottery to fund education. The answer to that is that we do theoretically. One hundred percent of video lottery dollars are deposited into the general fund. Education is also paid out of the general fund, roughly 46 cents for every dollar. So the revenue gained from video lottery is already being allocated to fund general fund programs including education. Video lottery has also seen many ups and downs over the past five to 10 years. To depend solely on such an unstable revenue would not be effective for education.
It was also asked if our current budget would allow the dollars to fund the proposed teacher salary increase. The answer from the Appropriations committee has been a solid no. The last three years the federal government has been consistently cutting back 10 to 15 million dollars, and every department that has come in front of the Appropriations committee has had a reduction of federal funds.
I think it’s wonderful we are separating ourselves from our federal dependency, but this means we need to be smarter with our dollars. If we were to go through and cut the departments and reign back in the money we have this year, how long could it be sustained? We will continue to have the same issues with the Department of Corrections and their pay, the same problems with Community Support Providers, and the same problems with multiple other departments. We need new revenue and HB 1182 is the answer.
I want to thank everyone for their concerned emails, texts, phone calls and social media messages. Your voices are heard and I try my best to reply back to all who take the time out of their day to contact me. It is an honor to serve District 8 and I would encourage everyone to stop out to the capitol for a day this session. Please contact me with any questions or concerns at or on social media. Thank you!

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