Sales Tax for Funding Education misses by one vote. Who is going to flip?

66 Replies to “Sales Tax for Funding Education misses by one vote. Who is going to flip?”

  1. primary voter

    I’m a republican primary voter and have been strongly resistant to other sales tax increase efforts but I support this bill (first sales tax increase I have ever supported).

    As a state with a large geographic rural area, we have the challenge of attracting businesses as opposed to preventing them from leaving. Teachers however are leaving the state because the immediate surrounding states all significantly more even after you factor in the state income taxes that exist in neighboring states (I oppose a state income in SD for the record).

    We need a skilled and educated workforce to remain competitive as a state in the global economy. Part of this is K-12 in addition to some form of post-secondary (college, university, or tech school). A strong K-12 and post secondary education system is needed to attract businesses to come to South Dakota and attract desirable workers (highly skilled) to come to South Dakota. The economic development and workforce development bills have addressed post secondary education. Now it’s time to address K-12.

    The funding increase is tied to student teacher ratios. Linking student teacher ratios to funding will help ensure more dollars go directly into the classroom to benefit students by helping retain skilled teachers. I like this because the proposal ensures the extra funding goes to teachers and doesn’t allow the school district to hire more administrators or spend more on buildings. This is about making sure South Dakota has a world class education system moving into the future. To legislators who voted yes, thank you. To legislators who voted no, please reconsider.

    1. Brett S

      Very well said. To the voters who live in the districts of the legislators who voted no please reconsider your votes for those people in November.

    2. Anonymous

      Spend your $450,000,000 in reserves before you ask for more tax payer money!!

      back to back, historic tax increase proposals from sd state government. When did governor dayton take over?

      1. Anonymous

        The year after the budgets were cut across the board in State Government, school reserves increased. Think about it practically, if you lost a significant part of your income indefinitely, wouldn’t you save for a rainy day?

    3. Anonymous

      The facts don’t support your argument here. All of our surrounding states are also experiencing severe teacher shortages especially rural areas.
      The facts are we need to target raises to areas of most need. Right now we are swimming in elementary teachers and starving in high school math and science teachers. If we need to pay these high need teachers 75,000 to keep them from being hired by private industry then that’s what we should do. Every other walk of life is a meritocracy and we can’t afford this socialist mentality in educator pay.

      1. Cliff Hadley

        Merit pay doesn’t work in public education, which has always been wedded to step pay and annual raises for all. Just the way it is.

        1. Anonymous

          I’m not talking about merit pay which is completely separate; that is based on past performance. I’m talking about a school board posting much higher salaries for areas of need and the state subsidizing them.

      2. Anonymous

        We are not “swimming” in elementary teachers. I am at a medium-sized school. Last year, we had six applicants for four elementary positions.

    4. Anonymous

      Your basic premise is false. The governor’s own Department of Education study found that the number of teachers and/or graduates with teaching degrees who leave the state because of higher pay in other states is minimal. It also found that there is not a shortage of qualified teaching candidates in SD.

    5. Doug

      I think part of the problem is that the level of misinformation concerning this issue causes many on both sides to lose sight of some of the cause and effect. The revelation at a recent cracker barrel that a mere 78 “administrators” are making from $100 to $300 each (Roughly 12-15 million) in Sioux Falls should get people to take a step back and consider how and why the money budgeted is not getting to the teachers. This state is not last on total funding, only on teachers’ pay which creates a complete disconnect between what we budget and how it is spent. The problem with raising taxes every time someone wants more money is that the waste and mismanagement never get fixed.

      The tax is dead at this point, but keep in mind a half percent tax is mostly a one percent because it is always rounded up. It is a politician’s ruse to make it sound harmless. And once the money flows, there is never a guarantee the legislature will spend it where it was intended. Then when the situation doesn’t change, the issue arises again for another increase, then another.

      The state and districts already have the money, they need to be forced to reallocate their priorities and spending. It doesn’t sound like much, but adding on average a one percent increase in the cost of purchases for a low income family over the year to support people making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and possibly unnecessary expenditures, while not seeing fair distribution to teachers is not a good policy.

      As someone else pointed out: before raising taxes let’s see a complete audit of the districts, the state, and evaluate the myriad of income sources and departmental surpluses that exist before shaking out the taxpayers.

  2. .

    Don’t stop now have the us senators stop farm subsidies,. Have them live off Social Security and cut the Govt pension in the house and Senate show us you can do it.If you don;t your no better th
    an the democrats.

  3. grudznick

    Rounds won’t flip and will never be re-elected in Pierre again. I put my money on Russell, May, and Marty flipping.

    1. Anonymous

      Think state employees who were a favorite target just a few short years ago (when Daugaard was a big budget cutter) appreciate this discussion?? Staties can’t really express their opposition can they? The govs office has a lockdown on commentary just like hilgers gultch. No sir, I suspect Rounds is standing up for the masses. And I say “good job”.

      1. anon1

        “The masses” are for this bill… you spend too much time talking to other negative Nellies to realize that there is a huge groundswell behind this.

    2. Anonymous

      Why do you say Rounds won’t be reelected, he didn’t campaign on raising taxes? I didn’t hear any of these Republicans for that matter banging the table at election time saying we need to raise sales taxes for teacher pay. We’ve known for years the only way you will get this kind of money is with a tax increase.

  4. Anonymous

    I cannot believe the number of republicans falling over themselves to vote for a massive tax increase.
    This is obvious wealth redistribution. Get a grip people.

    Regular folks will support you if not the taxpaid lobbyists and democrats.

    1. Anonymous

      Lee Schoenbeck had good words to add to the discussion this afternoon. Getting a quality education is the best way to help escape poverty. South Dakota needs to keep good teachers so that students have equality of opportunity to get an education. Equality of opportunity is a conservative principle that I think you would prefer as opposed to equality of outcome. HB 1182 is not wealth redistribution, it’s helping provide equality of opportunity so people get educated and prepared for the workforce and better prepared to become highly skilled workers through tech school, university, college, or professional school.

      1. Anonymous

        I’ve been to Lee’s house. It’s magnificent. Especially the landscaping in the backyard. There’s no doubt in my mind what he hopes to get out of a reduction in property taxes.

  5. Anne Beal

    We are number one in the country for the number of schools per capita. We have too many school districts, too many superintendents, and 400 surplus teachers. We are number 1 for cash reserves, capital outlay funds. We are number six for non-teaching staff, 17th in the nation for administrative expenses.
    Education is a black hole sucking in money with not enough accountability. Small towns where the residents have forgotten how to make babies are busing in children from other districts to keep their enrollment above the 100 student threshold, which is ridiculously low.
    In spite of having too many schools and too many teachers, a third of our college freshmen need remedial courses. It now takes too many students 6 years to get a Bachelor’s degree.

    Throw into this morass of irresponsible spending, a bunch of whining screaming teachers who behave like lynch mobs, complaining about how none of the rest of us know how awful it is to work indoors, in climate controlled buildings, getting all holidays, nights, weekends and even blizzards off, plus weeks off in the summer, and their working conditions just cannot be appreciated by anybody. Except maybe bankers.

    And then there’s the governors office. Hopefully this is the last time we make the mistake of putting a Chicago lawyer in there. The tactics used to bully the legislators into voting for this bill was so reprehensible as to warrant a no vote, so as not to reward bad behavior.

      1. Primary Voter


        I know many teachers who work well beyond there contract hours including nights and weekends to be the best teachers there can be. Certainly there are some teachers who clock in and clock out while doing the minimum. The answer to that problem is to eliminate tenure so consistently under performing teachers are given a chance to improve or look for another occupation.

        That is a separate issue from ensuring that we are able to retain good teachers. If South Dakota had such a surplus of teachers then there wouldn’t be so many rural school districts struggling to hire teachers. Even cities like Sioux Falls are struggling to find well qualified candidates. Good teachers help mitigate college freshman taking remedial classes which saves the student time and money.

        I agree with you that buildings and administrators get too big a percentage of the pie right now. it’s a problem. The bill that revises the funding formula also helps make sure the new money goes to teacher salaries instead of administrators or buildings. This helps put some accountability into the money so that more money is directed towards teachers in the classroom.

        Consolidation is certainly one solution. The local tax payers should certainly foot more of the bill instead of asking the state for money to subsidize teaching fewer students.

        Increasing teacher salaries is a start. There is certainly more that needs to be done and I think some additional accountability wouldn’t hurt in the future. That’s not the issue at hand in this specific bill though. The issue at hand whether or not South Dakota will have the ability to attract and retain talented hard working teachers who could leave the state or choose another profession.

    1. Jason Sebern


      We are 51st in the nation in state government support for education. Our local communities have opted out to support their districts. My town (Brookings) has done more than their fair share. It is time that our state government adequately fund education.


      1. Anon

        That’s not accurate. We are 40th in the nation in “state government support for education”. We are 51st in teacher pay, which is a decision made by the school boards, not the state. Somewhere between the state passing a budget and the school boards awarding contracts there’s a lot of money that goes somewhere else.

        1. Jason Sebern

          Show me the document that suggests we are 40th in the nation. According to a 2011 NEA report SD state government contributes 29% to the cost of educating students. The local governments contributed well over 50%. That makes SD last in the nation.

      2. Anne Beal

        No we are 37th in per pupil spending. The money goes everywhere else first, then the teachers get the scraps

    2. Tony Sayer

      Anne, I don’t completely disagree with you however I am loathe to condemn teachers. I think we should be cautious in wading into murky waters of an us vs them scenario. I am against the tax increase and always will be though I am not opposed to finding funding that the Pierre fat-cats have stored somewhere for special wants. I don’t think we want to go down a road talking about people having it made that complain since there is another special interest group I can think of that manage to use subsidies to buy new pick-ups and often have their own issues, and we have many more here in our great state, where there is quite an endless appetite for tax money. However, before we impose a tax we are all stuck with, why not look at existing school dollars being better used or perhaps less dumped into administrators that only manage to build new schools, or so it seems. I think our ignorant college kids is a different dog in a different hunt; education is as much up to the parents as it is to the school once the bell rings. My folks taught me at home long past my public ed ended for the day. TV is a p-poor excuse for an education at home and so our own laziness falls short and we blame it on the system when Little Johnny can’t get through college in less than 6 years for what should be a four year degree. I am not saying you but the collective we. My old man would say our kids in SD struggle because too much German blood however though I know it’s not true, I also know that it is more than just teachers and schools because it’s hard to compete with our modern gadgets, and if they don’t want to learn they won’t regardless how good a teacher are. What I do know is however that we need to use our brains and be smart in funding rather than always thinking tax dollars will fix an issue. I also agree that there is no room for arm twisting. Let the people speak through their legislators and accept that taxing is no fix for this.

  6. Springer

    I would support a tax increase ONLY if there was a statewide audit first of every penny that the state and local effort give the schools. I read too that we have more school districts than any other state. Granted, we have rural areas, but so do a lot of the other states with many less schools. Streamline administrative costs first. Consolidate schools if necessary; it’s been done before starting with the country schoolhouses and followed by many small rural schools. It hasn’t affected quality of education as South Dakota ranks at or near the top in student achievement. In the paper tonight it stated that valuations are once again going up, but I won’t hold my breath that the capital outlay fund levy will be reduced. Maybe direct some of the excess money now going into capital outlay into teacher salaries vs. new buildings, or lower the levy and that will make up for the tax increase (like that would ever happen!).

    I have said it before, and I’ll say it again. There are many state employees with four year degrees or more who make less than what the teachers make now, and they work year round. Their sick leave benefits are nowhere near what the teachers’ are either.

    Part of the problem with teachers leaving the profession is the lack of respect they get from their students, their inability to discipline students for fear of being sued or fired, the mandates of teaching to the test, Common Core, among others. It’s not only the supposedly low wages. And higher pay is not going to solve these other issues.

    But, I have no doubt that someone will cave in to the lobbyist pressure and vote aye when the vote is brought up again. I also have no doubt that the teachers’ union/lobby will be back again next year or the next saying they once again need more money.

    1. Anonymous

      Capital outlay funds are too large. The education funding bill changes the funding formula for education help make sure the money goes to teacher salaries (the right place) instead of building funds. This will help address one of your primary concerns.

        1. Springer

          SB131; I just looked it up. But trying to read through the gobbledygook of the bill relating to the capital outlay levy, I wasn’t sure there was any lowering of the levy in the bill. The increased tax, if passed, goes into the general fund directed to teacher salaries and has nothing to do with lowering building funds (capital outlay). If I’m wrong, please enlighten me.

          1. Anonymous

            Directing the new money towards teacher salaries means that the new money can’t be put into capital outlay funds that are too high.

            1. Springer

              I know that. They are two separate funds. The increased tax and those extra funds go into the general fund. That has nothing to do with the capital outlay levy at all. But supposedly the capital outlay levy is supposed to be lowered to make up for the increased tax into the general fund. I would like to know where that is in any of these education bills.

    2. anon1

      Hello… both the state and schools get audited every year…. What exactly are you looking for? It’s all public record.

      1. Springer

        I don’t mean an audit looking for illegal stuff. I mean an audit to see exactly where each and every penny goes. If the schools are taking in more money because of increased valuations, where is that extra money going? How much of the tax money is going to administration? to extracurriculars and the attendant costs with busing, meals, equipment, coaching staff, referees, etc? To new building costs and upkeep? to teachers?,

  7. Springer

    I would like to hear some examples of the tactics used by the pro-vote lobbyists/union against those who are against this tax. I have heard that thuggery and threats are used with this and another school issue. Is this true? If true, that should be reason enough to vote NO!

    1. Anne Beal

      The Argus has published a map of the state with “pins” showing the locations of House members’ homes so that angry mobs of teachers can torch their houses.

  8. Jason Sebern

    Why are most posters anonymous on this website? Are you embarrassed of your point of view? You should be.

  9. mhs

    Springer and Anne, whatever you’re reading that says we have more districts than other states is completely wrong. SD has been consolidating schools for 80 years and we’re pretty good at it, really. We had over 1,500 districts in the 40’s, we’re down to around 170. MN has 328, NE has 286, North Dakota has 277. There still are districts that need to go, but, not so many that it moves the funding needle enough to make much difference.

    1. mhs

      Cash reserves are another false indicator of school budget “problems”. Schools in many states are not allowed to carry cash reserves. In WI, for example, schools do not receive their school aid until 7 months into the school year. Every district in the state borrows money for 7 to 9 months every year and pays interest until the state gets around to cutting them a check. Horribly inefficient and expensive.

      In SD, remember, local government gets money twice per year when property taxes are paid. Schools carry cash to operate on during the months they get no tax or aid revenues. Reserves are operating cash, not piggy-banks.

      A lot of SD districts over-reserve, no question, but comparisons to other states reserve policy are meaningless.

  10. Inside the School View

    This is a tough issue. And my stance is not in align with others in my profession (educator).
    K-12 education funding does need improved and salaries need to be increased; however, this is not the way to do it.
    Issue 1) Limiting the funding strictly to certified instructional staff salaries is a mistake. A school has other personnel too. Has anyone tried to hire a food service employee or custodian lately? Also, this increase would not include school counselors. This position in most districts, to my knowledge, are on the same pay scale as teachers, but they would not get an increase with this funding. And this role is vital in the society we now live.
    Issue 2) An audit needs to be done of both local, state, and federal dollars. It could be very revealing as to what money is really being spent on. But more importantly, even if it appears to be a legit expenditure, it should be investigated to see if it is REALLY being used. There are times purchases are made because the money needs spent, but the purchase is not necessary. Lift the restrictions so that money can be managed/shifted and spent in necessary areas (such as salaries and wages). Instead of allowing wasteful spending to continue, lift some restrictions.
    I am not necessarily against the tax increase because it would be funding source for education. But I am not for the language, MORE restrictions, or waste.
    In my field I am a minority, but that is my two cents.

    1. Cliff Hadley

      Excellent comment. One thing to add: What if the tax passes and average teacher pay rises 20 percent, but nothing changes? My hunch is that teacher shortages and retention problems would continue, for reasons having little to do with pay.

      1. Inside the School View

        You ask a legitimate question. Increasing salaries is not going to be the savior of the teacher shortage situation. Will better pay help, yes. However, many are choosing not to enter the profession or are leaving for a multitude of other reasons and a pay increase is not going to change those issues.

        Education has become a difficult career choice, not because there are not people out there who adore children and want to help them learn, but because there has been a shift in society. The shift in society has led to children with out of control behaviors and emotional issues, lack of parental support, fear of legal issues, ever changing federal guidelines and mandates, and children today learn and behave very differently than previous generations. This is just the short list.

        I do not envy the position our legislatures are in and the pressure they are receiving on this issue.

  11. Lee Schoenbeck

    Nothing tough about this – buy one or be one. We don’t compete in the market place of education in a system we own. The capitalists get it. The Bernie sanders socialists like Gosch want to ignore the market. It’s time to call the idiots out. Im tired of fake republicans trying to bring us down. Call them out this weekend. I can’t change a vote. – but you can

    1. Anonymous

      Lee, just run for local school board. You can dole out your own community’s tax money instead of everyone else’s if it’ s ‘so easy’.

    2. Annon

      With all due respect, refering to the man your cauucus voted in as there leader a socialist because he stood up against the largest tax increase in our states history is deeply troubling.

    3. Cliff Hadley

      Mr. Schoenbeck, I’m an admirer of yours. But doggone, that is one post you should have hit delete on.

    4. Anonymous

      Please explain further. Why is Gosch a socialist for opposing the tax?

      I thought you made some incredible remarks on the floor in favor and Gosch and Westra gave strong remarks against.

      Quite honestly I’m impressed by those two in leadership to slow this tax train down for discussion. Much skill. Not easy to stand on the tracks with your hand out when the governor and his staff is coming down the track full speed.

  12. Anne Beal

    This bill provides the wealthiest among us with a tax break in the form of a reduction in real estate taxes. It benefits the people with million dollar real estate.

    It then offsets that tax break with a regressive sales tax that hits the poorest the hardest.

    This shift in the tax burden from the rich to the poor is exactly the kind of policy that Republicans are so often accused of promoting, and this time, the accusation is true.

  13. Charlie Hoffman

    I personally talked people into supporting Eureka’s last Opt Out property tax relief mill levy which raised my own taxes to support Education. ( Skin here is in The Game.) If this bill dies and I’m supposed to once again in the future be Pro-Opt out in order to keep a local school together I just may change my mind.

  14. Anonymous

    That would make some sense Charlie as this bill would give your local property tax payers a little break while forcing bigger towns to subsidize your small school through sales tax.

  15. Springer

    Our local paper had a front page article yesterday stating that residential assessments would be increasing about 9% over last year. It also stated that both crop and non-crop ag values will be increasing; the average valuation per acre will rise $232. This will mean extra monies via higher taxes already directed to the school district’s general fund; how about these increased monies be directed to teacher AND ancillary staff raises instead of another 0.5 cent on the present sales tax? Just where are these additional monies going in the school district; we know they will be receiving the extra money.

    These increased valuations will also mean an increase in the capital outlay funds, which have been growing by leaps and bounds in the last few years. Maybe the combined increases in funds in both the general and the capital outlay funds could be directed to teacher salaries.

    We are already paying more in taxes this year directed to the school system. Where are these extra monies going, plus the extra monies from recent years past?

    Social Security did not give a cost of living increase this year, while insurance premiums and deductibles are rising. Other state employees will not get raises to equal the proposed teacher raises, and many of them make less than teachers. Other school employees will not see a raise because of this bill.

    Education in the state is already getting more money this year. Why do we need to impose another tax on top of already higher taxes? Make better use of the money education is already receiving before asking all South Dakotans to pay more to just one sector of the state.

  16. Anonymous

    Is it only strange to me that the tax lobby never talks about why this is good for the kids? South Dakota has never been a class warfare state…until now. It’s crazy.

    1. Anonymous

      Retaining better qualified, skilled teachers will benefit students by better preparing them for post secondary education and the workforce. How does this not make sense, especially if districts are struggling to fill open positions?

  17. Anonymous

    Welcome back to the conservative ranks, Anne..

    What made you finally see the light? You guys were all in for the establishment cronies before.