Sunday, March 15, 2015

GOP Celebrates Mediocrity On Education, Etc.

Pierre is basically done again for the year, and once again, the GOP leadership in Pierre celebrates not getting much done.  I guess that should not come as a surprise.  Why do anything that could significantly improve life for citizens in South Dakota when you can show up, accomplish little, and know you will get re-elected?  At least that is the thinking of Senate Majority Leader, Tim Rave (R) from Baltic thinks:
"Never have we had a budget that does enough, and that's OK, because that's why we're elected to come back next year," said Rave, R-Baltic.
 I mean, why bother talking the difficult problems and look for ways to increase revenue to meets the needs of the state since you will always get to make promises and accomplish nothing again the next year.  The excuses will always be a lack of income to provide for any real improvements.  I mean what is a representative to do?  Just study the problem over and over?  That was the suggestion of Rapid City Republican Bruce Rampelberg.

The governor and legislative leaders are forming a “Blue Ribbon” task force to address the issue, and I am told everything is on the table. 
On the revenue side, potential changes are limited. Sales tax and local effort (real estate taxes) are already high and two possible solutions, removing sales tax exemptions from certain industries (newspapers, ag equipment, etc.) and an income tax would not be palatable. Finding other significant revenue sources will be difficult.
Lets have another study to see if there is a problem, say all things are on the table, except sales tax exemptions and income taxes.  Notice, that everything is on the table, except anything that would actually have a real impact on providing change for the education crisis. So, we will have a panel that will make bold suggestions, but the GOP is afraid of bold action.  That is not why they were put here.  They won't even allow for VOTERS to decide if we initiate a corporate income tax to help improve education funding.

The only time they try something unique is when ALEC pushes it.  It doesn't have to make common sense.  That was the insight offered on SB 189 that would divert funding for private schools and home schools:
Dan Liekvold, Superintendent of Lead-Deadwood Schools stood up and stated it was his understanding that Senate Bill 189 was not “born and raised in South Dakota.” 
“This came from — I’m not certain, but I think ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector individuals that, among other things, drafts model legislation). There’s the exact same bill in Arizona, the exact same bill in Louisiana. This wasn’t a South Dakota idea generated here, we’re sort of a proving ground, I think.” 
Dave Peters, a Superintendent from Spearfish summarized the problem with the thinking on the bill:
“For educators in this state in public education who feel the brunt of the low salaries, and the lack of support that they feel, this is just one more thing where the money could be going somewhere else that you’re already trying to fund, and it’s going to be a voucher for sectarian schools,” Superintendent of Spearfish Schools Dave Peters said at Saturday morning’s Spearfish cracker barrel. “Tough one for us to sell to our staff continually, to make them think that their state does support their efforts.”
So in the end, thanks, I guess, GOP for accomplishing very little.  It appears that it will be just enough to continue and kick all the problems down the road and get yourself re-elected.  Maybe the kids that struggle without a teacher will someday be able to replace you and will take a much more proactive stance instead of a non-active stance. 

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