Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Democrats Can Be Real Leaders In Education Pay Reform

The SD Democrats are saying that they are willing to put forth their own proposal in trying to get SD in line with the rest of the region when it comes to teacher pay.  At least that is what the Argus Leader of today is telling me.
South Dakota Democratic lawmakers pointed out holes in the Blue Ribbon Task Force's recommendations Tuesday and said they aimed to put forth a plan of their own to counter them. 
State Rep. Paula Hawks, D-Hartford, and Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, at a press conference in Sioux Falls said they saw shortcomings in the governor-appointed task force's suggestions for updating the state’s 20-year-old funding formula and increasing teacher salaries. 
"The biggest items were left undecided or incomplete," Hawks said.  
From the article I wonder if they are missing out on one of those key items: Going beyond sales tax to pay for the needed income.  As I have mentioned earlier, the Blue Ribbon Panel seemed to have ignored the idea of paying for the education funding increase.  We need to not put this just on sales tax, but instead include all those that benefit from education in this state (sales, income, corporate tax).  When we spread it out to include everyone, then there is more vested interest in the situation and less pain for any one group.  You can set up the income tax for those earning more than $350,000 for single or $700,000 for married at 3% (just random numbers), a corporate tax of 3% for corporations making more than $500,000 (more random numbers), sales tax of .5% increase with an exemption on food and cloths sales (like Minnesota).

Mr. Sutton is correct when he says the Blue Ribbon Panel failed its job.  (From the above Argus Leader article)
“The plan that we are currently looking at is just a layout and that was not our call," Sutton said. "If we’re just going to paint with a broad brush, I don’t think we did our job." 
Hawks and Sutton said they planned to draft their own plan along with Sen. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, on how the state should fund its teachers' salaries. They said it would provide more specific directives and they hoped others legislators, along with Gov. Dennis Daugaard, would support it.
The Democrats can not, I repeat, can not pick a funding mechanism based on what the Governor wants, but should develop one that comes across as fair and balanced for all citizens of the state and then let the GOP stand up against a common sense approach. 


  1. Look what Pierre did with the millions of education dollars that could have gone for teachers working with high risk kids. Instead it was used for Superintendents and cronies to line their pockets. I would not give this current administration another dime. That's like giving a bank robber a job in the bank.

  2. Is it leadership when nobody follows? The problem with teacher pay/funding is not a lack of "proposals" to remedy it.

    I would agree that in theory no matter what the Governor transcribes from the BRTF into proposed policy, someone could write something better (for teachers or low-income tax payers - pick a group). The question I have is will that "better" proposal go anywhere? Is "being know on occasion to howl at the moon" of value if the policy is not moved forward? Will the teacher shortage and the student loss of opportunity be made better if "better" proposals wither on the vine without followers?

    This is not only a Democrat, but also a GOP issue: is there the ability to govern or only to politic on this issue?

  3. Sales tax is a non starter. While I can support some added sales taxes, for instance on advertising, an increase to new automobile sales tax, I cannot support an increase in the sales tax. I do however feel that we need to be focusing our efforts in another area as far as raising money to pay for the shortfall in education funding and the counties shortfall in financing their responsibilities.

    First, to the education, we need to focus on the legislature putting the money that was promised for the tobacco settlement and the increased tobacco sales tax, as well as the money raised through video lottery and Deadwood gambling, back into funding education, period and therefore, its removal from the general fund.

    Secondly, we need to remove the freeze from property tax that was placed on several years ago. South Dakota with its 77,117 square miles, has over 49 million acres. If only a third of that is taxpaying, at $5 an acre, there would be in the vicinity of 80 million dollars raised. But of course within the cities and towns the raise would be considerably more than 5 dollars per acre as a city block runs between 2 and 3 acres.

    We have to be cognizant of the fact that most of the poor are renters and there is no freeze on the rental property taxes or rents, so the landlord passes his or her increased taxes onto the renter every year, whereas the homeowner essentially sits with the same payment year after year and is building equity and getting an income tax break while the renter gets neither equity or an income tax break.

    Just some of my thoughts.

    Lanny Stricherz