Where to Find Money for Teachers

South Dakota Rep. Lynne DiSanto

South Dakota Rep. Lynne DiSanto

Phil Jensen

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During the Rapid City Legislative Crackerbarrel meeting this morning, Jim Hansen, head of the Rapid City Board of Education, asked what is the plan to get us out of the education problem we’re in, if the recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Task Force isn’t the answer. Hansen claimed legislators would “decimate our schools” if they did not fund an education funding increase.

You could tell the education lobby was out in force because, as this was near the end of the meeting, all restraint was thrown off and there was lots of loud yelling and whooping from a certain segment of the audience in affirmation of Hansen’s statement

Rep. Lance Russell said that he had put out before the governor a bill to prevent what has happened in the past, where video lottery money was set aside for property tax reduction, and that has now evaporated. Russell said his bill would set aside $75 million from video lottery revenue, outside of the education funding formula, to pay specifically for teacher raises.  Russell said this would keep the money out of the state’s hands and the school board’s hands (where it might be spent on something other than teacher salaries), and earmark it for teacher salaries.

Rick Kriebel 2016

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He said there were “no” votes on HB 1182 because he and many other legislators want to explore every option before they fund an education increase on the backs of South Dakota taxpayers. Russell said $300 million has been diverted away from education due to budget cuts in recent years, and it is being spent on other “highly questionable” programs now instead of education. It is taking the easy way out by doing a sales tax increase, said Russell, when we don’t exempt food from that tax but we do exempt advertising revenue (an exemption which all the press outlets in South Dakota get, incidentally).

Rep. Lynne DiSanto responded, stating she had been against the education tax increase opt-out vote last year which was resoundingly rejected by Rapid City voters. DiSanto said it was rejected by the people by 57% against when the people were given an opportunity to speak about whether they really wanted to raise their own taxes to pay for more education spending.  She said she put more weight on what the people said than what she’s hearing from other sources.

There are four education funding proposals in the legislature now, said DiSanto, and she said she finds it offensive when people claim she’s “no” to all education spending when there are three other plans that she has not had a chance to vote on. DiSanto said there’s a lot of talk about “teachers winning” and so on, but asked about the wage earners of South Dakota whether they win if they’re asked to surrender more of their income to pay for a new tax.

Woodrow Wilcox

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As DiSanto wrapped up her comments and walked away, the education constituency in the room started yelling from the floor and whooping again, and was quite upset when the meeting came to an end without another opportunity for a question about HB 1182.

Maybe it’s no wonder so many of our children today act like such spoiled, self-centered brats…when this is the kind of people who are “educating” them every day at our public schools (that we are all paying for).



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Bob Ellis has been the owner of media company Dakota Voice, LLC since 2005. He is a 10-year U.S. Air Force veteran, a political reporter and commentator for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous election and public policy campaigns for over 20 years. He was a founding member and board member of the Tea Party groups Citizens for Liberty and the South Dakota Tea Party Alliance. He lives in Rapid City, South Dakota with his wife and two children.
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  • grevious channing

    DiSanto is a principled legislator who studies every issue put forth BEFORE she votes on it. Rapid City citizens are fortunate to have her as their representative.

  • algebra

    Every “useful idiot” who has been recruited to harass legislators over their nay votes should redirect their energies and phone calls toward the legislators who voted yes on 1128, and ask them to make it a clean bill. Take the property tax relief out. If this sales tax is REALLY about funding education, tell them to prove it. 100% of the money should go to education, not 60%. Every penny. Call your legislators. I dare you. Because when you do, you’ll find out this bill is NOT about education, it’s a Trojan horse disguising a tax cut for the rich paid for with a regressive tax on the poor.

    • supertreat

      The burden of all tax increases in SD generally has gone to individual homeowners if you look at the numbers. Agriculture gets huge tax subsidies and I believe it’s fair to give individual homeowners a bit of a break over what’s been happening w/ property taxes over the past several years. Isn’t taking some money from a new tax and cutting other taxes a conservative principle? I don’t think that’s a reason to not support the bill.

      • JB

        No, not all agriculture gets HUG tax subsidies. Ranchers, who make up most of West River ag producers, do not get subsidies. Only grains and some dairies get subsidies.