Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Other Reasons that Daugaard Lied on His Education Plan

When Governor Daugaard first ran for election in South Dakota, he offered his plan toward education.  While he has followed through with some of his promises in the documents (the ones that were always a problem and more on this later), he has missed the boat on promises that most South Dakota voters would have upheld.  One of the biggest lies was the idea that he would commit to schools getting the first dollars and the last dollars in the budget.
I am committed to the principle of “first dollar and last dollar” for funding our schools. The idea is not complicated. Schools are the only area of government that, by statute, receive an automatic funding increase each year. Before the budget discussion even begins, our schools get the “first dollars” through this automatic increase....
I also believe schools should get the “last dollar” each year. This means that, when times are good, and when the state’s other needs are met, any leftover funds should be allocated to improving our schools. Near-term budget challenges may frustrate this intention in the immediate future, but I am confident that we will emerge from this recession. When we do, our schools will be the first beneficiaries. 
Instead the Governor is happy to stash away the dollars away from education.  The state has had a record surplus the last two years and the Governor plans on keeping it that way!
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard says he intends to continue using a cautious budgeting approach that has led to state surpluses in the last two years.
It also turns out the there was even more money available that was stashed away beyond the budget reserves:
The Legislature with the governor’s approval stashed extra money into budgets throughout state government so it wouldn’t qualify as surplus.
Many of those actions took effect by law June 26, four days before the June 30 end of the 2013 budget year. 
In many instances the money was placed into 2013 budgets as supplementary increases. Those moves were coupled with protection clauses. 
The result was departments and agencies could carry forward unspent amounts to use in the 2014 budget year that began July 1, rather than have money revert to the reserve fund after June 30. 
This is when the state continues to fall behind in education funding
State fiscal year 2013 investment in K-12 schools is 13.6 percent below 2008 inflation adjusted levels. That means South Dakota has made deeper state funding cuts than 32 other states, according to areport released September 2012 by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan policy research organization, based in Washington, D.C. 
The Canton Superintendent puts it into perspective for their school district when the Governor holds back on his funding for education:
If the state would have followed the funding law, schools would be receiving $496 more per student than what the Governor is currently proposing. To put that in perspective, the Canton School District has roughly 850 students in grades k-12 which means that our school district would be receiving $421,600 more per year than what the Governor is currently proposing. Can you imagine the additional programs/ services that we could offer our students had we followed the law?
We need to hold Daugaard accountable to education first and last and not building budget reserves first, second, third, fourth, and last! 

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