Spared by Smokeout, SB 159 Stealth Vouchers Smell of Corporate Welfare

Senate Bill 159, the stealth voucher bill, died and was reborn today.

This morning I laid out four good reasons that SB 159, which would give insurance companies tax credits for giving low-income kids scholarships to private schools, should die as it did last year. House Appropriations almost granted my wish. Rep. Jean Hunhoff (R-18/Yankton) wanted to send SB 159 to the 41st day; Rep. David Anderson (R-16/Hudson) offered a substitute motion to table. The table motion insulated SB 159 from further debate in committee. Rep. Anderson’s motion to table passed on a slim 5–4 margin.

But some House members really, really want these stealth vouchers. This afternoon they voted to smoke out SB 159, forcing House Appropriations to send it to the full House for debate tomorrow.

House members should consider three items as they prepare to debate this constitutionally and fiscally unwise bill.

First, SB 159 should require a two-thirds vote to pass. It creates a new tax expenditure. It costs the state money (as laid out in the fiscal note to SB 159). It is essentially an appropriations bill, and our state constitution requires that any separate appropriations bill receive a two-thirds vote of all members of each house.

Second, Section 9 of SB 159 keeps secret the identity of the insurers receiving tax credits to fund private-school scholarships. If SB 159 is really in the public interest, the public should know who’s getting tax dollars for carrying out that interest, so we can be sure there’s no corrupt diversion of funds to friends of state government.

Third, before the House convenes, members should ask why prime HB 159 sponsor Senator Phyllis Heineman and her insurance agent husband D. Greg Heineman need any more state money to subsidize their support for Catholic schools. D. Greg’s company, Williams Insurance Agency, is clearly a friend of state government: according to the state’s invoice database, Williams Insurance Agency has received over $8.6 million in payments from the state for various insurance services:

Fiscal Year payments to Williams Insurance Agency
2011 $740,652.75
2012 $1,382,672.00
2013 $2,105,819.52
2014 $1,923,322.00
2015 $506,644.00
2016 (so far) $1,969,352.75
 total since July 1, 2011: $8,628,463.02

Heinemans get millions in nice contracts from the state, and still need tax credits to fund their philanthropy to private schools? Come on—give someone else a turn at the trough!

The big reason to vote Senate Bill 159 down once and for all is its unconstitutional effort to launder public money for private schools. The stink of cronyism and corporate welfare should ice that cake and convince the House to stick with its duty to support public schools.


104 Responses to Spared by Smokeout, SB 159 Stealth Vouchers Smell of Corporate Welfare

  1. Jerry K. Sweeney

    Never in the legislative history of SD have so many been so consistently betrayed by so few.

  2. Where was Representative Lynne A. DiSanto on all of this? My guess is that she may be one of the drivers.

  3. Please forward this to your favorite reporter. Ellis, Woster, Seth, KELO, Knobe, etc.

  4. Darin Larson

    In South Dakota, the fox doesn’t guard the hen house–the fox lives in the hen house!

  5. Here is what is painfully obvious: what is good for these kids is secondary to another agenda.

    Rather than discussing the merits of whether poor families (who in Sioux Falls to large degree will be Indian or from one of our immigrant communities) should have a modicum of choice to make a choice for educating their kids somewhere other than public schools, CH and its opponents would rather:

    1). Slur the sponsors husband. Agree or disagree with Greg Heineman (and I have been on opposite sides of him on a lot of issues), even behind his back I have never heard a negative word about him. He is kind, generous, honest.

    2). Assert this is somehow anti-public education when some of the most ardent supporters of this also were equally supportive of the tax increase for teacher salaries.

    3). Throw smoke screens it is unconstitutional or needs a 2/3 vote (both false and the asserter either knows better or should).

    Since to large degree many the opponents loudest against this also are using lies and distractions in opposition to this, I have learned a valuable lesson- be more diligent when the “pro-education” crowd calls for something. They have an agenda that is about something other than kids.

  6. Steve Sibson

    “The stink of cronyism and corporate welfare should ice that cake and convince the House to stick with its duty to support public schools.”

    Cory I agree with your position on this bill. But sadly, the same corrupt cronyism (cooperatives) and public funding of private schools is happening in the current Dept of Ed. How much education subsidies does the sectarian colonies receive?

    Instead of a targeted and bigoted attach on Catholic schools, why not go after the entire problem in a non-discriminatory fashion?

  7. larry kurtz

    Don’t let the door hit you in the assets when you leave, Tory Troy.

  8. Steve Sibson

    “I have learned a valuable lesson- be more diligent when the “pro-education” crowd calls for something. They have an agenda that is about something other than kids.”

    Good advice. The agenda is control by setting up a one-world system to control administered markets. It is what is called “progressive”.

    http://www.oneworldpi.org/

  9. larry kurtz

    Sibby, you work for Toshiba fer crissakes.

  10. Darin Larson

    Troy, you don’t think that millions of dollars in state payments to the husband of a legislator is cause for examination and concern? Furthermore, you don’t think that giving tax deductions to this same business for religious schools competing with public schools for funding and students is fair game for discussion?

    Seriously, take your blinders off. Replace Phyllis Heineman’s name with Hillary Clinton and the right wing would be calling for impeachment, indictment and heads to roll.

    If you don’t see that this is an item of public concern, you truly have an agenda. With all due respect, you vouching for the integrity of someone does not preclude public examination and debate on whether this is good public policy.

  11. Darin, I am open to having a discussion on its merits. There has been none here. Look into Heineman’s firm all you want. I will bet you the amount is premiums for insurance. The pennies that fall out of premiums to agents is deminimis. Only morons wave the top line without regard to the associated profits. But it is a handy big number if one one wants to slur and avoid the merits of an issue.

    His firm gets no benefit from this Bill but he is the single most repeated reason to oppose it. A lot easier I guess than discussing the merits.

  12. OMG, you are right on that one, Darin. If that was Hillary vouching for her husband it would be nonstop crying from the ‘pubs.
    Again, insurance companies don’t need tax exemptions, they need to pay more taxes!
    Insurance companies and agencies are not hurting, they really don’t need this tax exemption. They should just give back out of the goodness of their heart, and then maybe people would start giving them some credibility.

  13. larry kurtz

    Good eye, Darin. If Troy is on his heels you can bet the Heineman’s are his clients.

  14. Darin Larson

    And frankly Troy, I’m so angry about the starvation of our public education system in South Dakota that your efforts to divert attention and funding to private education do not sit well. And impugning the supporters of public education is not going to make you very popular either.

    Your private schools are competing with public education which could easily erode the foundation of public education. You are already saying your private schools are better. You don’t get that you are competing with public schools?

    I obviously have no problem with private individuals supporting private education, but to bring the state into this equation is going to draw fire and for very good reason!

  15. This is a pattern for the GOP controlled state legislature. Their end goal isn’t to see how they can make South Dakota, as a whole, better. It is about:

    – personal agendas (personal agendas that are dangerous/destructive AND more often than not, proven wrong based on articulable facts and science)

    – how to get public money into private hands.

  16. Big insurance is a huge contributor to the wide gap between rich and poor in this country.
    The number of bankruptcies from a sickness, overpriced auto insurance – it is all legalized corruption.
    The early socialistic beliefs of the Catholic Church would want nothing to do with big insurance.

  17. Jana,

    Reality: The insurance companies are not getting a benefit.

    1) They can choose to pay $2mm in premium tax. There is nothing that forces them to make a donation to this scholarship fund.

    2) They can make a $2mm donation to the scholarship and pay $400K in premium tax.

    Any insurance company who participates is actually decreasing the money available to their shareholders.

    If you think the premium tax should be higher (which gets passed onto their policy holders), argue that. It has nothing to do with the merits of this bill.

    Darin, if you are concerned about the public school system, I would think you would be sensitive to those who support the public school system but choose to not use it. In Sioux Falls, roughly 25% of the kids are educated in non-public schools. The constituency that opposes spending more is already large. I think it unwise to add to that constituency.

    Personally, i’ll continue to consider what the Harrisburg School District proposes on its merits. I will however be much more skeptical of the proponents and their agenda and will no longer walk my neighborhood (focusing on those who send their kids to private schools) urging support of their proposals.

  18. Troy I don’t think it is fair to suggest this is somehow an attack on poor kids or that the concern about this bill doesn’t revolve around the kids.

    The fact is, if you divert tax dollars towards private scholarships it may benefit a few kids, but as a result of our education funding formulas, it will remove funds from the public schools which as a result will harm many kids. In a large school if 20 or 30 kids leave for a private school it might not be a significant issue, but to a smaller school it would be devastating to their funding and would result in a ripple effect impacting exponentially more students than benefitted from the scholarships.

    There is also an issue with how these scholarships would be granted. This opens the door for corruption as a private entity starts treating these scholarships as an employee benefit to their low-paid workers. They offer to cover most or all of the private school tuition as a benefit which gives the employer some nice tax credits, and also serves as an incentive for the employee to stay where they are for fear of losing the scholarship and having to shuffle their kids back to the public school. I can see many ways this would be abused. The fact that the identity of the insurers receiving tax credits would be kept secret should ring alarm bells to anyone… I can’t think of a true benefit to that provision other than someone wanting to hide their actions.

    Finally, to suggest opposition to this bill somehow hurts children requires us to assume those children would receive a better education in the private schools. I simply don’t agree with that theory. I’ll admit they may spend more time learning about their prophets and they may spend more time in prayer etc. but I’d argue in some cases they will be at a disadvantage as they won’t be exposed to other cultures or religions, their is generally a lower percentage of minorities in private schools, and they may not be exposed to the same scientific concepts such as evolution, the origins of the Earth, etc. as these topics are avoided or minimized in many private schools.

    So in terms of actual education… I’m of the belief that the kids are receiving more in our public schools. We are fortunate we don’t live in an area where the public schools are failing and where charter schools or public schools are a saving grace to those who can afford them. In South Dakota, private schools exist primarily because they wish to have a more religious-centric education experience… so the overall benefits are questionable.

  19. Nick Nemec

    “They have an agenda about something other than kids.” Gosh Troy you left a giant innuendo hanging with that comment. Care to tell us what you mean? The mind wanders and wonders.

    If the payments insurance agents receive from insurance companies for selling insurance policies is, as you claim, de minimis, why do insurance agents even bother to sell insurance policies? And where do they get the money to build nice new buildings and pay their employees? Surely there are occupations that actually pay those who work in them.

  20. But Darin, corporations ARE people. This is just how rigged and scammed America is today. I can guarantee that Troy would agree with corporations being people.

  21. Do private schools in Sioux Falls have a smaller class size? I went to a private school in Rapid City for one year and the class size wasn’t any smaller than the public one I went to .

  22. larry kurtz

    Troy sits on the finances board for the Sioux Falls diocese, people.

  23. Troy should know that the Catholic church’s roots are staunchly socialistic. He needs to have a team of nuns put him in his place!

  24. Just seems to be SOP for the GOP, siphoning gov’t funds to private firms and then screaming about how gov’t agencies can’t perform. I give you Blackwater and/or Halliburton as prime examples on a grand scale. Didn’t solve a thing. Just funneled the money and corruption to private firms instead of gov’t. A few got rich and then whole thing blew up. We have our own SD examples in E-B5 and the Platte fiasco. Now we wish to take public funds away from public schools to fund private institutions? What could possibly go wrong?

  25. You are really against “religion”, so you hide behind your anti-scholarship rhetoric???

  26. larry kurtz

    Here’s Troy’s twitter feed. The guy should have been a priest.

    https://twitter.com/TroyJonesSFalls

  27. This is why I don’t know why Troy and his republicans are against Obamacare. It’s a huge gift to big insurance.

  28. the stench this bill creates is ugly.

    1. troy has no citation to a source that suggests cronyism is neither unethical or competitive and corrosive to public education. ethics statutes, wsj analysis, Bloomberg take on insurance tax credits (clearly public dollars) for supporting private ed.

    2. insurance premiums are the bread/butter of the industry and a rep. who directly benefits: a.) by voting on tax credits; and b.) by 5 years of lucrative state business in the multi-millions of dollars (not moron pennies on the dollar) conveniently to her husband’s insurance company is patently unethical and likely the reason she has time to devote to “representing” her constituents.

    3. law firms, insurance companies, the defense industry, engineering firms ect.that are fortunate to have state/fed. connections to bring in years of lucrative, reliable, non-competitive streams of cash for work provided is not much different that les’ apologist thread elsewhere here concerning a public utility with a regulated monopoly whose rates are set by “cost-plus” that decides to build a mirrored 3-4 story monstrosity on the ridge above RC blocking and blinding the view for 50 miles.

    arrogance born of the prosperity of state contracts without sophisticated ethics rules.

    contrary to competition. sweet.

  29. Uh oh, Here comes the copy and paste replies.

  30. I know Troy has had deep pain in his life so I’ll step off the soap box.

  31. If an insurance company wants to support a qualified 501c private school and claim it on their federal income tax, so be it. Do they need to double dip at South Dakota’s expense?
    As a side note, I called my insurance agent and asked him if he would give up his “pennies” from premiums. He said after 30 years, the “pennies” add up and are called an income.

  32. larry kurtz

    burn one for bernie.

  33. larry kurtz

    Jenny, deep pain is a way of life for most of us. What doesn’t kill us makes us longer.

  34. As of the 2015-16 school year, South Dakota public school districts received $4,877 per pupil in state aid. If Troy peels away 25 students from the enrollment of the public school district he resides in and convinces them to attend a private school, he’s just cost the public school district $121,925 — ah, let’s just say $122,000. So, as he watches state aid to public districts dwindle, he also wants taxpayers to pony up (oh, it’s just a small amount) to help finance private students’ education. And he can’t understand why people are upset with that.

  35. larry kurtz

    Troy’s church is bankrupt: both morally and financially.

  36. keep the insurance companies w/ tax credits secret from the public asked to give up the credits? is that true troy? is that proprietary, like Coca-Cola’s secret recipe, like trump’s taxes?

    come on, troy. argue for fixing EB5, MCEC, ect., not more cash loopholes. THE INSURANCE COMPANYS HAVE lobbyists already.

  37. Troy, if the Legislature’s agenda were helping kids, they’d never have stood for teacher pay to be 51st in the nation for 30 years. They wouldn’t be blocking Medicaid expansion. They wouldn’t by beating up on SDHSAA and trying to use our schools as courtroom guinea pigs for anti-transgender policies.

    Sending public dollars to private schools is not about helping kids. It’s about finding way to use tax dollars to prop up private religious institutions. To say that’s unconstitutional is not a smokescreen; that’s a valid legal position.

    I could make an argument that it would be good for kids to take them away from parents with IQs under 100 and place them in boarding schools. I could argue that it would be good for kids to remove them from low-income homes at birth and place them in rich foster families. My cries of, “But it’s good for the kids!” wouldn’t and shouldn’t stop decent minded citizens from mustering moral and constitutional arguments against such atrocities.

    Laundering my tax dollars to pay private school tuition isn’t an atrocity, but it is unconstitutional. We’re stuck showing our sincere care for the well-being of kids in other ways, like fully funding our free and universal public school system.

    (Or perhaps this analogy: my love for children does not mean I should take a second wife and make more babies.)

  38. And Troy, it’s not a slur to state that an individual who stands to benefit from the tax credits of SB 159 also makes millions of dollars from state contracts. It’s simple fact that casts reasonable suspicion on the sponsor’s motives.

  39. Everyone is satisfied with the puppie mills we call education in SD. 50% is a number I believe are leaving high school with no marketable skills or even abilities with simple math such as counting change. Plunge more money into a failing or failed system and expect different results when the largest union in SD cannot get together and direct the system towards caring for the lost 50%. Their ed should be different than for college bound.

    I am suspicious of everything that comes out of Pierre including what those self righteous screamers for more money for ed are yammering about. More money does not make for higher test scores, Darin. The teachers are failing because they are willing to work in a failed system and just blame money on the result.

  40. Bob Mercer says it’s a “fallacy” to call SB 159 revenue-neutral; he agrees that SB 159 makes schools suffer a loss in state aid.

  41. Steve Sibson

    This private school versus public school tells me that this is not about educating children…instead it is all about money and how much lands in which special interest pocket. The corrupt system in Pierre is not fixable.

  42. We ran Troy off, it looks like.

  43. Ran the boy off like a pack of dogs!

  44. join the democratic party in SD and fix it. its what we do.

  45. leslie it’s always good to dream.

  46. Craig,

    Thank you for your post as it is the first one that goes to the merits of the proposal.

    Your argument: “it will remove funds from the public schools which as a result will harm many kids.”

    My counter: About 25% of the kids in Sioux Falls attend private schools. If fully funded, this bill will provide scholarships for roughly 800 kids. Assuming 25% of the scholarships (200) go to Sioux Falls, the SF schools grows by more than 200 students every year. Instead of dealing with perpetual growth, one year they will have low or no growth (like many schools around the state) and get the same roughly the same money from the State. And, those 200 students they don’t have will lessen their need to build schools etc.

    Further, Sioux Falls has well over 200 classrooms so we are talking about less than a student per classroom. Statistically, individual classrooms have fluctuations more than one per year just from demographics, etc. This will not devastate or harm many.

    Your argument: “opens the door for corruption as a private entity starts treating these scholarships as an employee benefit to their low-paid workers’

    My counter: Rather than presuming a charity for the poor is a vehicle for corruption, it is more rational to presume otherwise. That said, this program will have a lot of eyes on it (more than most charities). If there is so much as a hint of corruption, I’m confident it will come to light.

    Your argument: “this bill somehow hurts children requires us to assume those children would receive a better education in the private schools”.

    My counter: Sioux Falls Public Schools (and the other public schools surrounding us) do a great job. For good reason, a lot of parents choose SFPS. All we are asking to is to allow a few parents of limited economic means to have choice on what is best for their kids. As one who has visited with such parents who apply to tuition assistance to our parish school (which we never can fully fund as hard as we try), in most cases they want remove themselves from friends and an environment that has become toxic. It isn’t a reflection on the school itself but a need for a new environment, our school is in their neighborhood and their situation to go out of neighborhood via open enrollment isn’t a logistic option for them.

    Your argument: “So in terms of actual education… I’m of the belief that the kids are receiving more in our public schools.”

    My counter: I can’t stress enough the need for this bill isn’t because SFPS doesn’t do a good job. They do. That said, my parish’s elementary school has the largest minority population in the system (and exceeds that of the public schools) yet its test scores compares most favorably against any school in town. The reason I believe is we have smaller class sizes than across the street at the very excellent Cleveland Elementary which allows us to attend to their unique needs.

    Like it or not, the needs of children from poor families present extra-ordinary challenges and those from the immigrant community even more so. Not every solution fits every need. For a few, the best solution for some is not SFPS. That’s not a knock on them but a reality. This is about kids.

  47. How about paying public teachers more and provide more benefits to them for being a public servant. Lower classroom size so that teachers can teach rather than herd. Provide incentives for those students and teachers who excel in science and math as an example, with more options for them. In short make public schools more professional while keeping the diversity of the real world. This is about kids.

    If insurance companies or any other appropriate industry wants to contribute then there should be places where they proudly display their support, not try to slither in like a serpent.

  48. larry kurtz

    Siphoning money to finance a criminal enterprise? Gee, who does that?

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/04/world/books-vatican-scandals/

  49. no this is about public tax credits for secret insurance companies. lobbiest: how do we sell that? we say we are trying to help parochial schools give tuition assistance to poor kids that need to be saved from dangers in their environment that public schools can’t solve. so secret insurance companies already on the public “teat” (forgive the crudity of this widely used analogy) will provide tuition assistance to “poor kids in danger” and get a tax planning device called a tax credit from the public pool costing all of us, but benefiting the insurance company owned by the representative’s husband and financing private schools desperate for more funding.

    scalia would say: “gadouddaheaha!!!” and flip u off with all his fat waving fingers under his chin. except his cold dead hands around his gun from his last hunt will preclude that. can I get an hallelujah?

  50. larry kurtz

    Tim Johns, a retired judge, is saying this thing is unconstitutional. Schoenbeck, a member of the Church of the Holy Roman Kiddie Diddlers is arguing in support.

  51. Oh no! Another anti-religion/anti-Catholic tirade.

  52. larry kurtz

    Which part of criminal enterprise escapes you people? Fraud is fraud.

    http://interested-party.blogspot.com/2016/02/seth-jeffs-arrested-flds-compounds.html

  53. larry kurtz

    “Rep. Hawley says “not in favor of this bill” but introduces amend to require disclosure of insurance companies receiving credits.”

  54. Oh no! Another public tax scheme to fund corporate welfare. Are we gonna allow yet another fraud to be perpetuated on us in the name of all that is holy, like moolah for the status quo?

  55. larry kurtz

    “Amendment fails on a 29-39 vote”

  56. larry kurtz

    The christianic religionists are on a full court press.

  57. Lar,

    Please tell us more. Tell us how you really feel.

  58. larry kurtz

    Over at the Drunks Without Cannabis blog Lynn is saying Democrats hate catholics. Ray Ring is a member of that sect.

  59. larry kurtz

    “Rep. Ring estimates $700,000 to $1 million lost in state general fund with passage of SB 159.”

  60. larry kurtz

    Susan Wismer: “Rep. Ring, my hero: “I see this as a conflict between the common good and special interests.”..great substantive debate here.”

  61. Larry thx for your precision sniping. where else am I gonna get knowledgeable info on judge johns, voting updates on sb 159 and lynn’s melodrama elsewhere, all in succinct sound bytes moment by moment? a plow is good. a shaming roadblock is worthless.

  62. Lar,

    It’s just how low the SD Democratic party has fallen. I know many Democrats who are Catholic that are fairly moderate but the ones I have talked to want nothing to do with the hate filled crap you are spewing and what has happened to the state party.

    If were were as miserable as those who keep spewing all this hatred and anti-religion were are supposed to take mind altering drugs to make things better and our lives more tolerable because there are no other ways to cope or deal with adversity? Boy! Sounds a plan!

  63. larry kurtz

    Cory is live tweeting, too. No doubt he’ll put up another blistering post on red state collapse.

  64. that coulda been, and still could be our governor, wismer

  65. larry kurtz

    CAHeidelberger: “RepJeanHunhoff: SB159 creates new board to monitor scholarships, loosely structured”

  66. It’s one thing to to talk about getting the state involved to subsidize private schools but to go on the usual tirade slamming people’s faith is another.

  67. larry kurtz

    Cannabis rights is a faith yet some people slam that all the time with regardless disregard for those folks.

  68. larry reminds me of a more caustic james Carville! lynn, can I assume that was my hallelujah from a catholic democrat (former) who is seeking validation and rebirth? as a dem again

  69. more big government to subsidize big insurance. and parochial schools. who woulda guessed? oh, and we pay for it.

  70. larry kurtz

    CAHeidelberger: “Rep Gosch admits he didn’t pay much attention in Rep Ring’s econ class. This is your @sdgop #sdleg”

  71. I think you guys have a winning plan. I really do. I really do………

  72. larry kurtz

    “SB 159 passes on a vote of 45-23. Heads to the Governor’s desk for review.”

  73. Al Novstrup just joined the majority in passing this corporate welfare. 45 votes is not veto proof.

  74. Supporters of SB159 brought up a fair number of complaints about old anti-Catholic sentiment. Contrary to Larry’s distracting blasts, I do not oppose SB 159 because of any dislike for Catholics or the Catholic Church. (And Lynn, put away your wide brush—neither Larry nor I speak for the SDDP.) Rank anti-Catholicism is as offensive and useless as Trump’s bigoted statements and is absolutely the wrong position to take in fighting SB159.

    The proper position is to point out that SB159 is an abdication of the state’s constitutional obligation to fund free, fair, and universal K-12 education for all students. Troy say growth is happening and we should thank private schools for taking lots of new kids off our shoulders so we don’t have to spend as much building new schools. That’s absurd. We should pony up and meet our obligations to every child and not count on private actors laboring under no constitutional obligations to pick up our slack.

  75. Al is really just a fun family guy that loves him some corporate welfare. He probably pals with Joop and that barrister feller there in Aberdeen.

  76. Darin Larson

    Troy, just to recap things here: Private schools have smaller class sizes because Phyllis Heineman and the legislature have underfunded public education. Phyllis Heineman says we need to fund private school with public dollars because private schools offer smaller class sizes. We are going to help fund private schools with tax breaks that only insurance companies are eligible to receive. Phyllis Heineman’s husband owns an insurance agency that receives millions of dollars of premium from the state for insurance. Phyllis Heineman’s husband makes deminimus money on these transactions somehow. We should not question this whole scheme. Got it!

  77. Rep. Partridge noted that insurers already get millions in tax exemptions. SB 159 adds to their corporate welfare. Rep. Partridge still voted for SB 159. Good grief! How many handouts do these philanthropists need to reward their alms?

  78. Partridge is in the pear tree of corporate greed allowing them to feed with impunity.

  79. Funny thing was, Jerry, Rep. Partridge sounded like he was criticizing those other tax exemptions and suggested the debate over SB 159 had re-energized him to fight for tax equality. I thought he meant he would fight the existing sales tax exemptions and require insurers to pay more taxes. His was an odd speech on SB159.

  80. Roger Cornelius

    Now we know how the Catholic Church has become one of the most if not the wealthiest organizations in the world.

    How many other states have become victims of their scams and money laundering?

    The Church could probably pay for a full ride for a student through college and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference in their cash flow.

    There was a time in this country when a private education meant just that, there were poor kids that attended private schools on scholarships and were not dependent on government aid.

    republicans often say that the churches should handle charity and not the government and now the South Dakota republican legislature is promoting socialized education.

    Why is it that I keep smelling Gear Up when SB159 is discussed?

  81. I don’t think they can help themselves regarding corporate giveaways. In reading the Rapid City paper some years back, there was a commissioner by the name of Ron Buskerud, who always condemned the votes for things like the new building campus that was being built as an annex. It had some green components in it regarding heating and cooling. This guy always seemed to come out against these but then would support them and everything else. I think that this is more of a Pennington county right wing kind of thing of speaking out of both sides of your anatomy so you can run and hide if you get caught up in a crap storm about it. The Partridge is just like the Thune, tall and full of nonsense.

  82. bearcreekbat

    Off topic Cory, but I hope you do a post on the passing of the new abortion restriction, as this new law again appears to subject medical personnel (and possibly pregnant women) to capital murder charges, mandating life in prison if convicted, and qualifying them for the death sentence, if the medical personnel help with an abortion after 20 weeks that is later found to be outside the new law’s limited exceptions.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/7/south-dakota-house-sends-20-week-abortion-ban-to-g/

    I can provide further analysis if you decide to do a post about this bill.

  83. Does anyone notice how fat, old, male, gray-haired and caucasian the SD legislature looks? I’m actually alarmed that some of the old boys could keel over from a heart attack at any time. Healthwise, is this the norm for the elderly population in SD? Get out and get moving, SD!

  84. Sometimes that is the only term limit you can achieve Jenny. Case in point just happened with Antonin Scalia. With his departure, maybe the Supreme Court will finally be able to be the law of the land for all people, we can only hope for both bodies that term limits will work.

  85. As I said in my first post Troy, I agree this may have little impact upon a big school (like Sioux Falls). The concern surrounds the small schools where removal of 10 or 15 students could have a significant impact upon that schools funding.

    Now as far as your argument that this scholarship plan won’t result in corruption, we only need to acknowledge the fact that it has a prime sponsor who co-owns an insurnace company with an insurance salesman husband both of whom stand to gain personally from this legislation. Strike 1. We also see that they baked into this the fact that entitites granting the scholarships don’t need to pubicly disclose the tax credits they receive. Strike 2. Doesn’t sound like they are off to a good start when they go out of their way to hide things by closing the blinds before the sun even comes up.

    Troy: “That said, my parish’s elementary school has the largest minority population in the system (and exceeds that of the public schools) yet its test scores compares most favorably against any school in town.”

    I see the test score argument often and I’m troubled when it is taken out of context. We all know private schools are not lining up to take the troubled kids. They aren’t offering dozens of full-ride scholarships to the kids with special needs and their percentage of kids with disabilities is far less than what we find in public schools. So in effect, the private schools get to cherry pick their kids while the public schools accept any and all that walk through the doors (ironic that some churches used to have the same motto). Thus, I’m not shocked that the public schools suffer a bit when test scores are used as a metric, because they are the schools educating all of the students who show up to school without having eaten a meal since yesterday’s school lunch. They are the schools who educate the kids who had to stay with their mom in a shelter all weekend. They are the schools who are educating the kids who have a single parent working three part-time jobs who couldn’t even think about sending their kids to a private school because there is no time to consider the option. They are the schools educating the kids who, if they are lucky enough to even know their fathers, have seen them bounce in and out of jail or prison their entire lives and have no idea what a two-parent stable household looks like.

    Do private schools take in some troubled kids or some kids with special needs? You bet – but at the end of they day it is far fewer than the public schools need to deal with. Fact is, if a parent is that engaged to find a way to get their child into a private school, it serves as evidence that the kid is already a step ahead… because they have a parent who is interested in that child’s future and a parent who cares. Wish we could say the same for all kids, but that isn’t the reality.

    Bottom line – this bill takes money out of the public schools and shifts it to private schools. Our tax dollars should not be directly subsidizing private schools at the expense of the public schools we have a constitutional requirement to fund.

  86. bearcreekbat

    Craig makes some great points. For example, public schools have the special education programs for kids with learning disabilities. It appears that there is no such obligation in private schools and that many simple will not accept any kids with special education needs.

    https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/choosing-starting-school/finding-right-school/6-things-to-know-about-private-schools-and-special-education

  87. Can my son apply for one of these scholarships and use the money at his public HS – to put a bit more into the public coffers?

  88. The state should be neutral regarding funding for private schools. The state should neither support nor penalize private or parochial schools. I taught at O’Gorman and still have a warm spot in my heart for the place even if all of the classes I taught math and science had more like 30 kids than 20 in them.

    BUT, the place was not run to provide just education or even primarily for education, it was run to have all kids in morning mass and prayer sessions, etc. hoping that they would remain or become life-time supporters of the Catholic Church and never practice birth control.

    Giving insurance companies a tax benefit and then siphoning money out of the state funds to benefit private and parochial schools is one of the worst infringements on the constitutions and public trust. It also has great potential for infringing on the freedom of religion which supporters of the religions do not seem to understand.

  89. O, I don’t think the scholarships can transfer that way. Do you see a loophole in the bill text?

  90. Very good first hand report Mr. Wiken. I believe that parochial schools and private schools should fund themselves without public money. If they want to pray, they can pray on their own dime but leave my dimes to hell alone. What are these legislators getting for the sellout? Who pays them for their theft of public money?

  91. Roger Elgersma mentioned in another comment that MN gives families a tax credit for private school tuition. This is what this bill should be doing instead of favoring some wealthy business.

  92. Douglas! I didn’t recall you’d taught at O’Gorman. I’ve had good relationships with the interp, debate, and drama coaches there. O’Gorman always brings good competitors in those events.

    But as much as I respect the students and teachers at O’Gorman, I’m not going to support sending any public dollars to support their school.

  93. Jenny, Roger, is moving public money to private schools via parents any better constitutionally than doing so through insurance companies?

  94. I see the mainstream raving about the new ed funding formula. They speak of student/teacher ratio not realizing they will probably be bussing their kids from Onida to Pierre and Northwest SD’s handful to Sturgis and Mobridge. Don’t forget Ronnie Reagan and the aircraft controllers strike. These guys don’t lose.

    There will be fewer teachers teaching more kids, with consolidation eliminating small schools, making that wonderful ratio.

    Do you practice birth control, Wiken?

  95. I, for one, am less curious but more afraid about whether or not Mr. Wiken practices birth control, but more curious about his method of choice. He has chemical, physical, behavioral and magic options to choose from.

  96. Cory, I’ve thought of that also, and to me tax credits for a family’s private school tuition is the lesser of two evils. I’ve lived in MN fifteen years and have never heard about this tax credit, so maybe it’s not all that great of an incentive.

  97. The funny thing is that it is the more experienced, higher-paid teachers who are more apt to go for the across the board raises that would negatively impact these high-paid private school teachers. It is funny that the libbies hate any “regressive tax” but they want “regressive raises” when it comes to give teachers money. Indisputable grudznick fact, this.

  98. Stop the percentage increases for public employees. Determine how much more revenue is available for pay increases. Divide that by the number of employees and give that amount to each employee. Percentage increases have led to the huge gaps between starting teacher pay and the high pay to often redundant administrators and teachers still using the same lectures they gave 20 years ago.

    As for birth control, I see no reason why what I do should be of interest to anybody. Anyway, wife and I are past the ages of having to worry about unplanned pregnancy. And I don’t have small hands either.

    Teaching at O’Gorman was both fun and frustrating beyond words. Some of the kids were best in world and brilliant too and others were rotten to the core. Some of my geometry students were the first math students from O’Gorman to ever win a prize at the USD math contests.

  99. Hey, Douglas, sometimes a lecture is 20 years old because it’s darned good. And I’ve taught plays that are 400 years old.

    “regressive raises”? Grudz, that’s a new concept I’m going to have to think about. You may be mixing concepts that don’t mix. Taxes are about fairly shared burdens. Wages are about fair compensation. Different things?

  100. Watch it Douglas, Jer will ride you for bragging on your manhood!

  101. someone said commissioner buskurud is skyping attendance at meetings while snow birding in AZ