House Raids Sales Tax Meant for Teacher Pay; Blue Ribbon Promise Gone

Hey, do you remember how the Legislature got lots of us to support increasing the state sales tax from 4% to 4.5% last year by promising to use that money to raise teacher pay?

That promise might be toast.

On Monday, House Appropriations amended Senate Bill 35, this year’s revision of the formula for state aid to general education. The amendment  strikes SDCL 13-1-65, the Schoenbeck provision from the 2016 sales tax increase that dedicates 63% of the extra sales tax to K-12 teacher pay, 34% to property tax relief, and 3% to vo-tech instructor pay. Monday’s amendment also strikes the 1% increase the Governor requested in our target teacher pay. Instead of pushing schools to bring average teacher pay to $48,985, we’re sticking with $48,500.

Our commitment to Governor Daugaard’s Blue Ribbon teacher pay plan has thus lasted one year. The Legislature couldn’t get through one full Session, one fiscal year with sluggish revenue growth, without raiding that piggy bank to fund other projects. After bumping us up to maybe 47th in the nation, the Legislature is giving up and letting teacher pay stagnate and slide back to last in the nation.

SB 35 as amended passed the full House this afternoon 42–25. The nays consisted of every Democrat and fifteen Republicans (including both of my District 3 Reps., Dennert and Kaiser) saying wait a corn-pickin’ minute!

Thus amended, SB 35 must go back to the Senate for concurrence. Teachers and other education advocates who swallowed principles, supported the Governor’s inferior and more regressive sales tax hike, and in some cases backed Republicans who voted for that plan, may want to contact our Senators and remind them of the deal we made.

Senators, you raised our sales tax, and we didn’t throw you all out, because you promised to use most of that sales tax for teacher pay. If you throw that promise out, we’re going to have to throw you out.

25 Responses to House Raids Sales Tax Meant for Teacher Pay; Blue Ribbon Promise Gone

  1. Mr. H, does all that mean that the legislatures are taking money away from teachers, good teachers, to give to farmers through that new fund for the agriculture future you had a blue link about? Or does it mean the legislatures are taking money away from the farmers property tax to levy against this fund for the agriculture futures?

    I think the confusingest part of this is what is this fund for and why do we need it if we don’t know what it is for? I say BAH.

  2. Where is the 14 million dollar surplus the lying liar Daugaard was blathering about?

  3. Mark Winegar

    The legislature’s excuse for going back on their word was a bad year for Ag. Clearly the Ag economy is stable enough for the state to depend on. We need to diversify our economy so the government can keep their commitments and more people will want to stay in South Dakota.

  4. Dennis Halterman

    Mark, you state “We need to diversify our economy.” We’ve all heard that for a long time, but none of that ever happens. What are the specifics of how South Dakota could diversity its economy?

  5. C Brechtelsbauer

    Are legislators going back at all on the part of the 1/2% sales tax hike that gave the $34 million property tax break on commercial property? Please recall there was no blue ribbon task force for that, no great public call for it. Has anyone heard of any landlords passing this tax break on to their renters?

  6. CB, that’s unclear. The repeal of the half-cent dedication doesn’t say where legislators will spend the money; it doesn’t prevent them from spending the money on teacher pay or property tax relief. But it does open the door for all of that money to go elsewhere.

  7. Diana Wright

    I voted for the .5% per $1.00 tax increase for teacher pay and now you are planning on stealing that money for orher purposes!??? Obviously the arm of corruption doesn’t stop in Washington and extends to SD! Do the job you were electef to do! Use the money for what it’s supposed to be used for!! Do our teachers really need to be on the BOTTOM of the pay scale?? They are teaching our children!!!

  8. Darin Larson

    I think the legislature may be recognizing that when you only give schools a .31% raise in funding, you can’t require schools to give teachers a 1% raise. After schools get done paying for other increased costs, like health insurance for staff, there won’t be anything left of that .31% to give a raise to teachers. Schools will likely have to deficit spend from their general fund balance just to keep from cutting teacher salaries. Of course, that presumes that schools have reserve funds available. Not all schools do.

    Given the fact that the legislature required at least 85% of last years increase in school funding be allocated to teacher salaries, a .31 % increase this year means schools will be burning reserve funds and teacher salaries will be flat. A couple more years of this and we will be right back to 51st in the nation again for teacher pay. But look on the bright side: school fund balances, which the legislature resents, will be greatly reduced and property tax opt-outs will be greatly increased.

  9. This is all part of the plan. Divert promised funds away from education when you don’t think anyone is paying attention (and in a non-election year). Keep teacher pay low which thus prevents many of our best and brightest from entering the teaching field. This in turn results in overworked teaching staff, larger class sizes, less personal instruction, lower test scores, and a less educated student body.

    As a result, people are more attracted to the idea of charter schools or school vouchers because they feel the schools are failing us. A nice little bonus is that the more uneducated a person is, the more likely they are to vote Republican. That might sound like an insult, but it is actually a statistical fact.

    In summary, if you keep the population stupid, you can continue to win elections.

  10. Roger Elgersma

    entirely disappointing. They raised taxes for road repair and then again for teacher pay and almost no one complained. Why do they not realize that South Dakotans have matured enough to pay the bills? Republicans definition of what is right is all measured in dollars and cents. They need to mature into people who do what is right for the people.

  11. I knew this was going to happen all along and why I didn’t support the sales tax increase. Suckers. Everyone of you. And now I’m paying for it.

  12. South DaCola: are we “suckers” if the money goes to education? Is your objection to paying any and all taxes?

  13. Frani Lyons Pilgrim

    That makes me ashamed of the Legislature. Teachers hold the future of the stsye in their hands…Shame on you Legislature.

  14. Is the Amazon sales tax included in the budget? If not, WHY?

  15. I am pretty sure the Governor made a big point out of saying that web was going to collect sales tax. I just bet you he wouldn’t make a big deal out of it and not put it in his budget. Unless they forgot and everybody else was not paying attention, in which case we are all saved! Raises for good teachers! Yea!

  16. Ha, you fools! You trusted them!
    “Fool me once . . . won’t get fooled again.” G. Bush

  17. Rochelle Plocek

    Sigh. It feels like we are having to fight so hard to protect every single, tiny gain we’ve voted for. Once again I’ll be picking up my phone.

  18. DeVonne N. Schuh

    If it was allocated for teacher pay as we were told that is where it belongs. NOT anywhere else, you sucker us and then lie and steal wherever you possibly can. I’ll have you know anybody in society has had to walk through the halls of schools to earn diplomas, degrees whatever. Parents impact our lives first of all and then the education system comprised of teachers…however, teachers are forever kicked in the teeth. Money that is appropriated for the teachers is stolen to stick somewhere else. Really….. Why didn’t you tell us you would pull this last year we would have taken our brunt of chastening for becoming intelligent people and worked for NOTHING. I think it’s high time someone else works for NOTHING…. appreciate the education system. Look at our pay although you want a quality education….correct. You get what you pay for, good teachers will leave because they are NOT going to work for nothing. We have EARNED our education and we are entitled to NO ONE.

  19. This is wrong. Our state senators should be ashamed.

  20. Gracie, a source confirms Grudz’s suggestion: we’re already factoring the mysterious Amazon money, whose estimated total must not be spoken. There is no magic missing math to save us, only political courage and commitment.

  21. How about now calling out legislators who opposed the 1/2 penny last year on the grounds that the money to fund education was already hiding under rocks in the budget; there was no need for new revenues. Where are those magic prosperity rocks now to balance the budget so that there is not even a discussion of looking to the path promoting student opportunity forged last year?

    History has proven some wrong. Shouldn’t we recognize that? Shouldn’t that influence their advocacy moving forward?

  22. Carol Bergh

    Despicable action by the South Dakota legislature!! How do you look yourself in the mirror.?

  23. Jody Buckley


  24. Ina Winter

    My state rep said that they saved teachers from a pay cut because revenues were down and the sales tax increase was tied to the consumer price index!

  25. Ina, I’ve heard that line from multiple sources. I don’t buy it. The index factor in the school funding formula (SDCL 13-13-10.1) is defined as CPI-W or 3%, whichever is less. I have yet to see any one show the data that the consumer price index adjustment would have been negative.