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SB 71: Schoenbeck Wants 75% More Public Money Sent to Private Schools

You know what we don’t need in education? More tax dollars shifted to private schools!

But that’s what Senator Lee Schoenbeck is up to. With the co-sponsorship of fellow radical religiositers Stalzer, Steinhauer, Hansen, and Deutsch, the King of the Senate proposes Senate Bill 71 to increase the cap on the state’s stealth vouchers to private schools by 75%, from $2,000,000 to $3,500,000. The euphemistically named “Partners in Education” program robs South Dakota public schools of taxpayer support by refunding premium taxes to insurers who give out scholarships to K-12 private schools.

Senator Schoenbeck brings SB 71 while private school enrollment in South Dakota declines and public school enrollment increases. Evidently, Senator Schoenbeck and his theocratic Republican friends are trying to counter that trend by offering private schools additional subsidies. How very un-Republican, using state dollars to pick winners in the marketplace.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-01-11

    What the he!! do you people expect? Schoenbeck works for the Roman church. Aided and abetted by fellow cultist and lobbyist Jeremiah Murphy, forced the perverted South Dakota Legislature to pass laws covering up countless crimes committed by their sect by enacting statutes of limitations.

  2. John 2022-01-11

    Sen Schoenbeck and his merry band of fellow radical religiousexuals are further evidence of a democracy committing suicide.
    John Adams reminded us in 1814 that all democracies die by committing suicide. Creating theocracies from public resources is another step toward that suicide.

  3. O 2022-01-11

    This is a great example of the conservative individual transactional view of taxation. Sen Schoenbeck and the supporters of this funding will say that they believe taxes are used to educate our children — ALL our children. It does not matter if that education is public or private (that is where “choice” comes into the discussion).

    I take a different view. Taxation is to ensure communities have a system of public education open to anyone. I have a community/systemic view that looks at the benefits of education beyond the individual to the betterment of a society.If you don’t have a child (or grandchild or niece . . .) being. educated, funding education is still important. Education could never be supported if funding were only collected from those directly involved. Taxation does not work that way; I don’t pay taxes only on the roads I use or the neighborhoods I want protected from fire . . .

    Anytime the privates are allowed to take public money from public coffers, public education suffers. The very nature of private education is to break with the public, be it religious indoctrination, pure profit, or some other rejection of an element of the general population. It is counter productive to the public good and has an element of elitism.

    I would also argue that this is taxation with our representation. When my tax dollars are sent to a public school, I get a say in how that school operates; I get to help elect a school board. When my tax dollars are sent to a private school, I get no such say; in fact, my input will be wholly unwelcome.

  4. Amy B. 2022-01-11

    What is with this administration and the Republican legislators targeting the education and school system so much lately?! At this rate parent will have to pay for their children’s books and chip in for paying teachers (on top of paying taxes) and kids will only be taught basic math, the difference between a noun and a verb, and that this country cease to exist before 1776 and after that some people came here and they worked hard. Other people invented things which makes life easier for us all. This is getting beyond ridiculous and moving into absurdity.

  5. O 2022-01-11

    sorry, ” . . . taxation without representation.”

  6. mike from iowa 2022-01-11

    Religious freedumb is a crime against humanity whose time has come and gone eons ago.

  7. Kyle Krause 2022-01-11

    Public support of sectarian instruction prohibited. No appropriation of lands, money or other property or credits to aid any sectarian school shall ever be made by the state, or any county or municipality within the state, nor shall the state or any county or municipality within the state accept any grant, conveyance, gift or bequest of lands, money or other property to be used for sectarian purposes, and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed in any school or institution aided or supported by the state. – Constitution of the State of South Dakota, Article 8, Section 16.

    The stealth voucher program seems to be pushing the line of what is constitutional, and it does not appear that it has yet been tested in court.

  8. Kyle Krause 2022-01-11

    Democrats also need to take note – The U.S. Supreme Court could make it impossible for the state to fund non-religious private schools (e.g. charter schools) without also funding religious private schools. Funding Native American charter schools could open the floodgates for private religious schools to get state money.

  9. mike from iowa 2022-01-11

    The stealth voucher program seems to be pushing the line of what is constitutional, and it does not appear that it has yet been tested in court.

    With an embarrassingly red lege and hand picked Supreme State Court, your judicial test of constitutionality is likely a foregone conclusion and would likely be upheld by embarrassingly activist magat SCOTUS.

  10. jerry 2022-01-11

    Why not put a private clause in the public schools? In order to get this Lee (dog leg crooked) Schoenbeck money, put private sponsorship on the athletic programs as an example. Think outside the box for the dollars that will be needed to educate all children.

    Tax private schools and all religious programs and property. Then earmark that money for public education.

    Expand the US Supreme Court.

  11. Allen Jeris 2022-01-11

    I’ve been saying this from time to time for a long time. Schoenbeck is part of the problem in SD. From calling his constituents commies on his Facebook page to being a pawn for the trial lawyers association to push for the false ideology. I wonder how he would feel if the government tried to take his constitutional right to be a parent away. He looks out for his elite circle and everyone else can have the scraps.

  12. Porter Lansing 2022-01-11

    When the RCC pays Schoenbeck over $375,000 a year to be their personal state legislature lobbyist, it’s time the Roman Catholic Church be stripped of it’s tax-exempt status.

  13. Bill 2022-01-11

    Do you want public dollars going to institutions with discriminatory practices? In some states schools given voucher money discriminate against accepting certain types of students? How about schools that teach that evolution is not science? Public money is going to schools of a religious nature that teach anti-evolution. State departments of education typically have the duty to determine the content of the school curriculum.

    Individual taxpayers should not have a say in how their tax monies are spent. For example, I oppose war yet my tax dollars are used to build military equipment. Why should a parent have the “choice” to decide how their tax money is used just because they happen to currently have a school age child that they would like to enroll in a religious school?

    It appears to me that various misleading and deceitful arguments have been employed over the years to use public money to fund private and religious schools. One source of this thinking has been the Heritage Foundation, a think tank in DC with a clearly religious agenda and considerable influence within the GOP..

    Where will this thinking and type of legislation lead us? Perhaps we are on the way to some of the thinking and practices of Germany or other European states. Tax dollars go to churches. In Germany state recognized churches are funneled tax monies with the provision that these institutions provide social services to the needy public. The tax is known as the German Church Tax. Are we headed back in that direction? I fear some of the unintended consequences of blurring the lines between church and state.

  14. Mark Anderson 2022-01-11

    Hey folks, this is a great way to get rid of the Hyde Amendment. Just join in, payback is always good.

  15. larry kurtz 2022-01-11

    Porter reminds us that nothing gets passed in Pierre unless somebody’s ox gets gored spectacularly enough to cover up some other oxen being gored. Hand wash hand in circles that make jerks of every voter is simply the Republican way by design. If anything changes it’s because the circle jerks run out of ammo and blame the feds.

    Praise the lord and pass the gravy taters., as it were.

  16. larry kurtz 2022-01-11

    Maybe South Dakota is all jerking while driving because they’re all on meth.

  17. Arlo Blundt 2022-01-11

    The state constitution is quite clear as is the US Constitution. Since WWII legislatures have waltzed around clear constitutional restrictions on “promoting religion” basically using the fact that private schools must meet state rules and statutes regarding school standards of instruction. Private schools do not have to comply with all rules (Special Education for example) and this selective compliance differentiates private and public schools. It isn’t just Catholic Schools. In the last thirty years we’ve seen the rise of an entire network of “Christian Schools” of various denominations with various treatment of curriculum standards but also some fairly “loosey goosey” Charter Schools. It ends up unraveling our constitutional mandates that our children will receive an “equal opportunity for Elementary and Secondary education” It’s a slippery slope.

  18. jerry 2022-01-12

    Mr. Kurtz, my hope is that tribal communities heed your words and start their economic development ideas from the sales.

  19. Porter Lansing 2022-01-12

    Visit Flandreau ~ You Know … for the scenery :)

  20. larry kurtz 2022-01-12

    Thanks John. No doubt Mr. Schoenbeck is high on the body and blood of a dead Jew who can still write the checks.

    On January 11 Archbishop of the Santa Fe Diocese John C. Wester offered a pastoral letter he calls “Living in the Light of Christ’s Peace: A Conversation Toward Nuclear Disarmament” something Lee Schoenbeck’s biggest benefactor has yet to embrace.

  21. LCJ 2022-01-12

    I am fine with the private school increase as long as the public schools are also given the same.
    Fat chance in hell that will happen,

  22. jerry 2022-01-12

    I would rather visit Kyle or Sharps Corner….for the scenery.

  23. Porter Lansing 2022-01-12

    It’s a joke, Jerry. Flandreau is only about the weed. My friends Mom from Madison used to go there with her other retired schoolteacher friends for bowling league, but the lanes shut down and are a grow house, now.

  24. jerry 2022-01-12

    Flandreau is also a nice drive. I got the joke. What would not be a joke would be if Pine Ridge would follow Flandreau, also, Cheyenne River and every reservation. The question is, is Flandreau making a profit? If so, then the others are just being kinda silly not doing the same.

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