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SB 116: Two Hoghouses Later, Democratic Effort to Fund More Needs-Based College Aid Passes Senate

Sometimes South Dakota Democrats can get a bill through the Senate. Economist and Senator Reynold Nesiba (D-15/Sioux Falls) saw “his” Senate Bill 116 pass the Senate unanimously yesterday.

I say “his”, because SB 116 has been through two hoghouses.

Senator Nesiba’s original plan was to add $5,000,000 to the education enhancement fund to support needs-based scholarships for higher ed.

Last week, Senate Appropriations completely changed SB 116, turning it into a measure to dictate that the first dollar spent from the state budget reserve when it exceeds 10% of the general fund budget has to go toward needs-based scholarships. The amount specified was literally “one dollar,” with the intent of giving the House a chance to amend and settle on an actual amount in conference committee. The hoghoused SB 116 received a unanimous committee vote.

Then yesterday, Crossover Day, Senator Jeff Partridge (R-34/Rapid City) rose to re-hoghouse SB 116. Now the bill puts $1,000,000 in a new “Dakota Promise Fund” designated to match funds from our public universities and private colleges and universities to support students receiving Pell Grants with an additional $500 to $2,000 grants.

Senator Nesiba deemed Partridge’s proposal a friendly amendment. Senator Jack Kolbeck (R-13/Sioux Falls) responded favorably to Partridge’s addition of our private schools to the plan. With no further discussion, every Senator voted aye. The House now gets a chance to add its stamp to what started as a Democratic effort to do something to help more South Dakotans pay for college in our fair state.

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