Senator Heineman Opposes Sales Tax for Teacher Pay; GOP Challenger Bergan Says “Do Pass”!

Senate Appropriations approved House Bill 1182, Governor Dennis Daugaard’s extra half-ercentage point sales tax to fund competitive teacher pay, in a 7–2 vote this morning. The two nays came from two Republican Sioux Falls Senators, David Omdahl from District 11 and Phyllis Heineman from District 13.

Sen. Phyllis Heineman, R-13/Sioux Falls
Sen. Phyllis Heineman, R-13/Sioux Falls

After his boorishness toward kids and colleagues this Session, I expect no progressive thinking from Senator Omdahl. But surely former teacher Senator Heineman can do better than her stuck-in-the-mud House colleague and former teacher Rep. Lana Greenfield and see more sense in funding new revenue to ensure ongoing teacher pay?

Nope. In committee questions this morning, Senator Phyllis Heineman signaled her desire for changes to continuing contract, despite testimony in committee today that schools already have the mechanisms they need to remove bad teachers.  Senator Heineman said, “I can’t say to the taxpayers, ‘I’m sorry but the only solution is to look to your budgets.’” She promises we will find the dollars, but more than three months after the Blue Ribbon K-12 task force released its final report and let everyone know the magnitude of funding we need to make a meaningful difference in our teacher pay, Senator Heineman hasn’t bothered to look through the budget and identify specific places where we can find the money she thinks is out there.

Senator Heineman is promulgating the rump Republican fantasy that we can cut other programs and fund ongoing, difference-making teacher raises without raising anyone’s tax bill. Senator Heineman’s looming Republican primary opponent David Bergan doesn’t think we need to wait any longer:

David Bergan, Republican candidate, District 13 Senate
David Bergan, Republican candidate, District 13 Senate

I wholeheartedly support the Governor’s plan for increasing teacher pay.  South Dakota’s low salaries have been disrespecting our good teachers for many years.  I am disappointed that Senator Heineman, a former teacher herself, doesn’t seem to understand the urgency of our teacher shortage.  We aren’t going to find $79 million/year in the couch cushions [David Bergan, e-mail to Dakota Free Press, 2016.02.25].

District 13, it appears that, even among Republican candidates, you have a choice between an incumbent who’s standing with extreme right-wing Republicans in obstructing the Governor’s teacher-pay plan and a practical newcomer who’s ready to solve South Dakota’s teacher shortage now.

26 Responses to Senator Heineman Opposes Sales Tax for Teacher Pay; GOP Challenger Bergan Says “Do Pass”!

  1. Darin Larson

    I like that line about not finding $79 million in the couch cushions. How many of these dark-age loving legislators who voted against 1182 were around to cut education by 8.6% in 2011? Why didn’t we take the money out of the couch cushions then if we have all this extra money lying around?

  2. Not only has Sen. Heineman not found the dollars in all her years on the appropriations committee, she is actively siphoning off the dollars coming into state government and redirecting them to private schools with her bill this year. If Gov. Daugaard didn’t have a reason to veto her religious school giveaway before, he does now.

  3. what do you expect from her.Shes getting way to old to be I think for making decisions.

  4. Heineman, Gosch and the rest of the cult in Pierre should take a listen to a republican sheriff in Louisiana speak the truth about right wing failure. This bunch in Pierre are shameful, but they know that and don’t really care that we know that either. Running off a fellow legislator, polluting our waters without care and getting us into more lawsuits that we cannot win, that is not leadership, that is a cult. They might as well move to Pringle and take over the compound there. Take a listen to this county sheriff, it is worth it. Some republicans are figuring it out, don’t count on Heineman or the crooked barrister though,

  5. Senator Phyllis Heineman (R) from District 13 had no intention of finding the money in this year’s budget and not in any upcoming budget. If she had she would have been prepared with an alternative plan.

  6. I think this Ms. Heineman, who has really pretty droopy eyes for a lady of her gentle years, is probably going insaner than Mr. Sibby’s stepsister. I would say she has marginalized herself from the mainstream Conservatives with Common Sense and probably blathers on about her own odd fixations all the time. I say, Ohmdal is a curmudgeon and I can respect that, but for a young lady that used to teach to be so insane I have a tough time with.

  7. When my brother-in-law from Aberdeen, Burt Elliott, was in the House, he said that Phyllis Heineman, Education Comm. Chair, voted on the floor *against* every single bill that came out of her education committee. How does she keep getting elected? On the other hand, I know David Bergan and think he would be a moderate Republican in Heineman’s seat (if there’s going to be a Rep. there). Also, let’s get Ellee Spawn into one of the House seats and get some common sense back into our Legislature.

  8. Mr. H, I would bet you a heavy breakfast that this Ms. Heineman couldn’t budget her way out of a wet paper sack handed out at a Sioux Falls arena league scrimmage. Take my bet and buy me a breakfast, sir!

  9. Super Sweet

    Not wanting to politicize the mascot, but Dave will be a real Bulldog in the legislature.

  10. Steve Sibson

    “Senator Heineman hasn’t bothered to look through the budget and identify specific places where we can find the money she thinks is out there.”

    I have and found a $128 million increase in the governor’s budget proposal. There is a huge $20 million 78% increase in his own Executive department. The Dept of Ed already has a $38 million increase, so where is that money going if not for teacher pay? Then there is the $37 million increase in DSS, the faster growing department. Since Daugaard was first elected, the DSS has grown $171 million or 56%.

  11. larry kurtz

    Sibby, how much has Dept. of Public Safety and DCI grown?

  12. Sibby, why aren’t you sending this memo to Senator Heineman so she can read it into the record? Surely, after her failure to take this problems seriously and come to the table with real numbers of her own, she would love to have this homework done for her.

    Grudz, no bet, but one of these days, we will have breakfast face to face. Perhaps I’ll make a campaign swing out your direction to fundraise among my Black Hills friends once they’ve topped off their contribution to local Dem candidates in the Legislative 30s.

  13. How about an amendment to sunset the tax July 1, 2018. Then have the governor reconvene the blue ribbon committee to determine if the tax increase and other action are having the desired effect. Increasing teacher pay and ability to recruit new teachers to the field. If not, let the tax increase go away, if it is working, recommend making the tax increase permanent.

  14. 90 Schilling

    Thanks for the numbers Steve. Understandable why they are so protective of their turf in Pierre.

  15. I’m going to be brutally honest. I really dislike the idea of rising taxes. There is money that can be found in the current budget, if the various committees were willing to really look for it. The people who have learned how to play the budgeting game, have learned it very well indeed.

    That being said, school boards can’t wait, our teachers can’t wait, the money needs to start flowing this year. I am not a huge fan of just throwing money at the problem, washing our hands and calling it fixed. If we are going hike up taxes to fix this, then we need to make darn sure it is going to be fixed

    Let’s add an amendment to sunset this tax July 1, 2018. Instruct the Governor (whoever that might be) to reconvene the Blue Ribbon panel after the 2017 session to determine if indeed the problem is being fixed. They can recommend letting the tax expire, keeping the tax or increasing it, along with any other changes, in the 2018 session. This in addition to yearly audit of every school district to ensure money is going to teacher pay.

  16. John Kennedy Claussen

    Yep, the money is already there. Scott and Susan never publicly advocated tax increases for education during the 2010 and 2014 election cycles that I can find, at least not for the poor and working poor. With all due respect, Democrats in Pierre had the opportunity to take the Republicans to the ropes this legislative season on funding for teacher pay, instead, they decided to be the water boy for the wealth class. Without the Democrats in Pierre, the Governor and the more moderate Republican forces are or were impotent to solve the teacher pay crisis in our state, but now we are giving them a political bye.

    Another argument, I am hearing from some Democrats who support the sales tax increase, is that the poor and the working poor in having access to the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on their tax returns can afford this regressive sales tax increase. Well, that is what corporate America thinks, too, when they under pay the poor and working poor expecting the welfare safety net to pick up the slack or should I say the tab… Perhaps, if we hopefully are able to place a 36% cap on pay day lending in November, those savings in payday lending interest and fee costs could subsidize the increase sales taxes for the poor and working poor, too. Right? Is not that the thinking of some of my fellow Democrats, when they use the EITC as a justified argument. Democrats we can do better…. Find the money in the budget!….

    Democrats should not be in the business of legitimatizing our state’s sales tax. They should be in the business of significantly increasing teacher pay with the current revenue and budget, and or taxing the rich.

    This enabling politics of the Democrats in Pierre is a by-product of the “New Democrats” non-sense of the 1990s, which still lingers on within our party today, unfortunately. Giving us lower wages through free trade and now at the state level, greater teacher pay and property tax relief on the backs of the poor and working poor. If Sanders is too socialistic for you and Trump just wrong and too obnoxious for you, well their rise is the result of Democrats not doing their job in the last twenty years and in Pierre they are still not doing the job the right way…

  17. mike from iowa

    Without taxes,you got nothing. No roads,no schools,no police,no fire protection,no military-nada,zero,zip,zilch! You pols are so afraid of not being elected and receiving campaign cash,you’d sell your children’s and Grandchildren’s future down the toilet. Grow a pair and live dangerously.Raise the needed revenue w/o stealing from the poor and the elderly and the disabled.

    There ain’t a single person in America who is too good or too wealthy to pay some more tax revenues.

  18. She couldnt find herself if you gave her a flash light

  19. Don Coyote

    @ Lorri May:

    “How does she keep getting elected? ”

    Because the Democrats don’t run anyone against her. She was unopposed in the 2014 general election after Augie Prof Reynold Nesiba withdrew. (Hint he was a place holder for a district in which Dems are outnumber by 2,000 + Republicans). Any Republican who wins the primary (she was unopposed the last two I believe) wins the seat.

  20. so a win by 2000 republican votes? damn–Dist 33 (north rapid) gets 3000 republican RV votes dumped in on top of low income minority residents that actually live there. the republicans become the majority winners. whata yah kno?!!! hmmm

    blame dems for republican gerrymandered districts?

  21. Don Coyote


    The “win” was a default. From Ballotpedia:

    “The general elections for the office of South Dakota State Senate took place on November 4, 2014. A primary election took place on June 3, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in this election was March 25, 2014. Reynold Nesiba was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Phyllis Heineman was unopposed in the Republican primary. Nesiba withdrew after the primary, and Heineman was unopposed in the general election”

    The registered voter differential was 2,000+ in favor of Republicans. This is hardly a gerrymandered district. Go east and you run into the ghost neighborhoods of Sanford. Go South and you have the Repubs of South SF. Go East and you have more Repubs (my district). This is a heavy (R) district any way you slice it.

  22. Don Coyote

    Ooops forgot the gentrified neighborhood of downtown SF. My bad.

  23. my comment took the convenience of yours to emphasize the dist 33 problem of voter dilution.

  24. @leslie: Your District 13 lines are gerrymandered. The southern line doesn’t stop at Minnehaha Co. There are two precincts of Lincoln Co. that the Republicans gerrymandered into Dist. 13. Dist. 13 goes from the northern part of poorer people who sometimes don’t vote to the über rich in the southern parts, inc. Lincoln Co. The district is loaded with Republicans, except that section I mentioned above.

  25. Sorry, that last post should have been shuttled to Don Coyote.

    @Don Coyote: I agree with your earlier point about Phyllis H. getting elected because of lack of Democrats running against her. However, David Bergan now might give her a good run in the primary.

    One note about P. Heineman: When my brother-in-law, Burt Elliott from then Dist. 3 in Aberdeen (aside: Dist. 3 was gerrymandered to keep my bro-in-law and sister, Elaine Elliott, out in the cold depth of Dist. 2 because they kept winning in Dist. 3) was in the House, he said that P. Heineman was the Chair of the Education Committee. She’d listen to everything in committee, then come out onto the floor and vote *against* every single education bill that came out of her committee. How disingenuous and dangerous. I know David Bergan and I respect him from the “other side of the aisle.” I hope he gives her a good run for her money and wins the primary against her. He’d be a good fresh face in the Legislature.

  26. MC: a two-year sunset? Scary! I could accept notion, only because I plan to muster a larger, burlier Democratic caucus who could work with Republicans to tackle tax reform and reduce the regressivity of the funding mechanism you want to sunset. Plus, my caucus will lead a majority to ensuring continued commitment to this year’s gains and to making sure this plan works in 2017 and 2018 and convinces you to extend the program beyond 2018.