Listening to the last meeting on September 9 in Pierre, the Blue Ribbon Panel heard even more data that continued to be pointed out as not quite a clear picture of what is actually happening with education in our state. They then met to talk about actual goals of this panel. They concluded by getting together in three smaller groups and talking about the next steps. For many this may seem like a lot of spinning ones wheels and getting no where. You probably won't get much disagreement.
The groups came back and brought out their recommendations. All the groups like the idea of the penny sales tax, but we should include some property tax relief. Why the property tax relief? Because these "bold" individuals claim that we should only do something that the Governor and the rest of the GOP leaders would pass. THIS IS BOLD?
The panel seems to be coming to the legislative table like they are scared of what everyone else wants in Pierre and not what the citizens are willing to do and support. They need to remember that this is the same group of people that rejected the idea that we are approaching a teacher crisis in this state simply because the idea of funding increases. This is the same governor that has shown his disdain for the education profession and public education in this state over and over again.
What would be bold? My suggestion is a requirement that puts skin in for everyone involved in the education game. A 1/2 cent sales tax with removing of sales tax on food goods, A small corporate income tax with a little more for corporations not headquartered in the state, and an income tax on people making more than $500,000 could be established and provide some property tax relief. The corporate tax would help acknowledge that businesses are making an investment in the future of the workforce.
Where do I get these ideas? Are they something I picked that would be poison to the citizens of this state? Nope. The Blue Ribbon Panel had them from a Harstad Poll that was sponsored by several different groups. Here was a finding that I don't think got mentioned once on air:
When presented with various tax options as possibilities to fund increases for public schools, voter responded positively. When asked whether or not they would support a corporate profits tax to help fund public schools, 53 percent of the respondents said definitely yes or probably yes. An option that received the most positive response was increasing state taxes on corporations heard quartered in other states at 70 percent followed by taxing the income on people making over $500,000 a year at 59 percent, increasing the summer sales tax by one penny at 56 percent, the corporate profits tax again at 53 percent, and lastly at state tax on car rentals, hotels and motels at 51 percent.My advice to the Blue Ribbon Panel is to be bold and do something that doesn't happen much in Pierre: consider the thoughts of the public over the wishes of party elites. Do not start from a position of weakness, but instead show your GOP colleagues that this is in their best interest because not supporting education will be a pivotal moment and probably could cost them their seat. Remind them that they are there for good of the state and the districts that contain a school (or probably more). Remind them that they also need to be bold.
That would be the BOLD move, but based on what I heard, even from one of the co-chairs, bold needs to take a back seat to giving something Daugaard and other GOP will support.