Senator Parsley’s week four legislative report

By Sen. Scott Parsley, Dist. 8

Week four saw the end of bill introduction with 418 bills introduced, a smaller number than in recent years. The bills introduced included the long awaited education bills.
There are four Governor’s bills related to expanding funding for education: SB 131, 132 and 133 and HB 1182. Following is an overview of each of these bills.
SB 131 deals with establishing a new formula based on student/teacher ratios, and it repeals the current formula based on the number of students enrolled. The bill also changes the way the pension fund is accounted for and how “other funds” will be treated in the future. The bill also outlines the level of cash balances that the schools may carry, the changes in capital outlay taxes, and finally, it requires that at least 90 percent of the state aid to education must go to teachers’ salaries.
SB 132 repeals incentives for school consolidation and adds English Language Learner funding to the Department of Education’s budget.
SB 133 establishes policies on shared services between schools, re-establishes an educator’s mentoring,  provides certification reciprocity for teachers coming to South Dakota from other states, and adds dollars to enhance E-Learning programs.
Finally, HB 1182 revises the level of state sales tax from four percent to four and a half percent.
The Governor’s plan would provide approximately $62 million in new money and shift another $19 million from outside the school general fund to the school general fund relating to schools pension funding. The Governor’s plan calls for $40 million of the one-half cent increase to be used for property tax reductions.
The Democrats introduced their education funding bill. SB 151 calls for a one cent sales tax increase and would forgive sales tax on all food sales. The plan will increase the state’s average teacher salary to $50,000.   The Democrat plan would provide approximately $100 million in new revenue for education.
These bills will begin to make their way through the committee process this week, and by next week we should have a better understanding of where there is support for increasing teachers’ salaries.
I am troubled by the introduction of a number of bills this week that, in my opinion, would discriminate against certain groups of people whose life style may differ from mine. These bills seem to be directed at singling out individuals and allowing society to exclude them. This seems very unfair and discriminatory to me. I will share more on these issues as they move through the system.
As always, please contact me with any issues or questions you may have. You can reach me at svpar@hotmail.com.

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