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Education Funding Bill Dies

February 6, 2012, 6:09 PM by Austin Hoffman

Education Funding Bill Dies
PIERRE, SD - A bill to raise the sales tax for the summer months died in Pierre Monday. Those for the bill say the extra money would have helped out education and health care.

Republican Senator Stan Adelstein from Rapid City brought Senate Bill 120 to the table. He said while lawmakers find a permanent plan, it's a short-term solution to a short-term problem.

"The fact is that I have studied the revenue increases in South Dakota for each summer for at least four years, that we come in with no less than $47 million and probably with inflation that this bill would allow, $60 million, to come in during those three months," Adelstein said.

Adelstein said the extra money would make up for last year's education cuts and help ease cuts to health care. He adds that with a 24 percent to 27 percent spike in state sales tax revenue during the summer months, it would put much of the 1 percent increase on tourists. Jim Terwilliger with the Bureau of Finance and Management said that is not the case.

"Certainly, there are more people from out of state during those three months out of the year, but if you'd visit with the folks at the Department of Tourism and ask them what the number one tourism is in South Dakota, it's the South Dakotan," Terwilliger said.

Adelstein said his constituents in the Rapid City School District are still hurting from the $3 million cut they ended up with last year. Now it’s time to let them be heard.

"We can not simply say no, no, no when the people are saying to us, yes, yes, yes," Adelstein said.

But it’s something committee member Senator Eldon Nygaard said should be left up to the people to decide.

"The people are going to be able to vote, us as legislators, we're going to be taken off the hook and the people will decide. So you don't have to worry about how your representing your district; the people will be heard," Nygaard said. 

Nygaard is talking about Initiated Measure 15 that residents will voting on this fall. If passed, it will raise sales tax by one percent; some of which will go to education.  Senate Bill 120 lost by a vote of 4 to 1.

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