The state Department of Education has released its official calculation of South Dakota’s average teacher pay in the first year of the extra half-penny sales tax to raise teacher pay: $45,625. DOE says that’s an 8.8% increase, meaning our extra sales tax raised pay from an average of $42,245 the year before, or $3,380.
That’s a significant downgrade from the preliminary projection Governor Dennis Daugaard issued last year, when he said South Dakota’s teacher salaries had been raised 11.9% to $46,924 by his hard-fought teacher-pay plan.
The state’s press release says South Dakota is “on track to meeting a statewide target average of $48,500,” but that was the target we were supposed to meet last year. The formula passed in 2016 planned for that target to index up each year; this year, we’re supposed to hit $48,645. We only reached 54% of last year’s target; getting to $48,500 would have required a 14.8% increase.
We’ll need to look around to see how far out of last place nationwide this 8.8% increase raised our teacher pay compared to other states, but $45,625 would vault us above just one other state in the rankings for the preceding school year, moving us from 51st to 50th.
Democrats lined up behind increasing our regressive sales tax on the promise that it would move South Dakota teacher pay to $48,500 PDQ and lift us several ranks up from last place in the nation. The sales tax plan appears not to be delivering on that promise.