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.