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House Committee Passes Education Funding Guarantee

January 31, 2014, 10:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

House Committee Passes Education Funding Guarantee
PIERRE, SD -

South Dakota schools might be guaranteed at least a two-percent funding increase each year in the future.

A bill that would require the increase passed the House Education Committee Friday. The current guarantee is based on an index factor that could dip lower than the two-percent mark.

Wade Pogany is executive director of Associated School Boards of South Dakota. He says he discusses multiple issues with board members across the state.

"But the one that keeps coming up over and over and over again is the need for some way to have some stability in long-term planning," Pogany said.

He says the two-percent guarantee would provide that stability. Sen. Larry Tidemann (R) Brookings adds that it likely wouldn't become a financial burden on the state.

"Over the last two years, we haven't funded them less than two-percent, except for two years when we were in a huge world-wide recession," Tidemann said.

But others cite that same fact in opposing the bill. Jim Terwilliger with the South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management says education is already a priority in the legislature.

"They're the only entity in the state budget that is guaranteed, through the index factor, a certain percentage increase each year," Terwilliger said.

"I think the charts handed out demonstrate that we do more than is required. I think we can continue to do that. But to mandate we do something when everyone doesn't have that same kind of protection I think is a mistake," Rep. Hal Wick (R) Sioux Falls said.

Opponents also question whether education should get a guarantee when the state isn't guaranteed a two-percent increase in revenue every year. Still, supporters say the two-percent guarantee is a compromise because schools need more.

The two-percent would be a minimum guarantee. Education advocates say they’ll ask for more each year.

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