Yesterday I proposed a grand bargain to give Governor Daugaard a one-year suspension of continuing contract in return for raising the average South Dakota teacher salary to 13th in the nation, $60,000. My proposal would cost $184 million.
Teacher Michael Larson offers a humbler proposal: raise South Dakota teacher pay to 39th in the nation, $48,000. But he gets gritty and tells us where to start looking for the $73 million his plan would take: cut state government! Larson identifies the following tasty cuts:
- Department of Tourism: $1.94 million.
- Governor’s Office of Economic Development: $2.94 million.
- Bureau of Finance and Management: $4 million.
- Bureau of Administration: $3 million.
- Legislature: $644,000.
- Department of Agriculture: $600,000.
Larson hacks away some pretty big chunks of fat from Pierre. But he identifies just $13.1 million, 18% of what his plan will require and 7% of my plan’s budget. Larson’s respectable effort demonstrates a hard truth about the K-12 funding challenge. We all lick our chops at the prospect of getting the money we want by inflicting pain on some unworthy bureaucrat or burr-under-our-saddle government office. But meaningful funding for even a humble K-12 funding proposal like Larson’s will not come from cuts any more than I’m going to pay my mortgage by skipping breakfast.