The following bills would enact various portions of the Blue Ribbon plan:
- House Bill 1182 raises the revenue. Sixteen sections bump the sales/use/gross receipts taxes from 4% to 4.5%. Section 17 sends $40 million of the $107.4 million expected from that half-penny hike to property tax relief. HB 1182 does not require that the new revenue be spent on education. Section 18 declares an emergency and enacts this tax provision on June 1, 2016—one month before it would come into effect under normal procedure—meaning that if it passes, South Dakotans cannot refer it.
- Senate Bill 131 revamps the school funding formula. It replaces the current per-student allocation with the new per-teacher allocation based on recommended student-teacher ratios ranging from 12.5 to 1 for school districts with 200 students or fewer to 15.0 to 1 for school districts with 600 students or more. Section 4 defines the new budget reserve caps—40% for small schools, 30% for in-between schools, 25% for big schools. Section 23 allows exemptions to the reserve caps; Section 24 enforces the caps. Update 15:35 CST: Section 26 requires that schools spend at least 90% of the increased revenue provided under SB 131 in FY2017 to “increase instructional salaries and benefits for certified instructional staff.” What happens in FY2018?
- Senate Bill 132 repeals some consolidation provisions and amends the workforce education fund to direct money to the Department of Education instead of to school districts. Wait—that Department of Education?*
- Senate Bill 133 adds the gravy to the Blue Ribbon panel’s meat and potatoes: teacher mentoring, teacher certification reciprocity for out-of-state teachers, more support for distance education, and assistance and incentives for schools to share services and employees.
The Governor’s plan is thus four bills. The revenue comes from HB 1182, insulated from referendum. The actual education policy comes from three separate bills, with SB 131 the central, indispensable piece.
Read, read again, and start counting noses!
Update 20:02 CST: That Sioux Falls paper reports that only three of these bills—HB 1182, SB 131, and SB 133—are part of the Blue Ribbon plan. A source tells me that SB 132 is tucked in between 131 and 133 simply as clean-up language to the statutes being addressed in the teacher pay plan.