Sen. Parsley’s week two legislative report

By Senator Scott Parsley

The second week of the 2016 legislative session saw committees beginning to pass bills and some floor action on bills. The Joint Appropriations Committee heard bills giving bonding authority for new buildings on our college campuses, including giving the Board of Regents authority to purchase land from the Dakota State University Foundation for the construction of the Beacom building.
Meetings were held this week between the state and representatives from the federal government regarding the plan to expand Medicaid in the state. An additional 55,000 South Dakota citizens will have health insurance if an agreement can be reached between the state and the Center for Medicaid and Medicare (CMM) regarding the reimbursement for Tribal members receiving medical services outside of Indian Health Services. I am hopeful the state and CMM can find an agreement and we can expand Medicaid and provide 55,000 South Dakotans health insurance.
The discussions continue on increased funding for education. As you know, South Dakota’s teachers are last in the nation in teacher pay, and the Governor has proposed a half cent sales tax to increase teacher’s pay. Within the proposal, a portion of the current capital outlay would go to supporting the general fund of the schools and schools would need to cap their reserves. These are not new dollars to the school system but are rather a change in current law regarding how schools can use local tax dollars. There is also concern by some lawmakers that schools won’t pass the additional money on to teachers.
I believe that we must make sure that the new money goes to teachers, but the state does walk a fine line between putting conditions on state funds and local control of our schools. While the state can set where revenue is derived, it is still the local school board that sets its budget and determines its own spending priorities. My goal is that we are able to get a meaningful increase in new revenue for schools and not just move revenue around and say we helped schools.
For my part, I will continue to work with the Governor and my fellow legislators to find a long-range plan that will benefit education for years to come.
As always, if you wish to reach me, my email is svpar@hotmail.com.

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