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Daugaard Supports Plan To Cut Schools 6 Percent

March 7, 2011, 4:10 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Daugaard Supports Plan To Cut Schools 6 Percent
PIERRE, SD - It appears South Dakota schools will be saved from a full 10 percent budget cut. A new idea and some added revenue could trim the overall cut to about 6.6 percent.

Here's how the numbers would add up. 
  • Monday, lawmakers tweaked Senate Bill 152, which is a property tax bill that would freeze property taxes where they are. That means funding for education would be cut by 8.6 percent. 
     
  • Lawmakers also learned the state expects to take in $14 million in additional tax revenue it hadn't planned on back in January.
     
  • Those two efforts combined mean more money to schools, and it has local districts looking at a total cut of 6.6 percent cut.
     
South Dakota schools have spent the past two months of the legislative session trying to fight against Governor Dennis Daugaard's proposed 10 percent budget cuts, and this latest proposal appears to spare schools from the full impact of that proposal.

And while Republican Senator Larry Rhoden's property tax bill now stands to cut schools at 8.6 percent he's hopeful it won't end up being that much. 

"The worst case scenario I'm hopeful would be a slight reduction in the 10 percent cuts the first year and a more dramatic benefit to schools in the second year," Rhoden said.

That's because once Rhoden's bill is packaged with House Bill 1110, which would allow schools to tap into the one-time money of $14 million dollars in taxes that the state is now expected to collect, schools will likely only see about a 6 percent cut.

"A package deal, if you will, it's likely that they'll move together and comprehensively the two bills I think will be at least what most legislators and the governor's office have been working toward as far as a solution that one helps us balance our structural deficit, or eliminate our structural deficit. But it also provides some resources to try and step down the severity of those cuts," South Dakota Bureau of Finance and Management Director Jason Dilges said.

Both of the plans still need to pass the full House and the full Senate, but leadership from both chambers helped come up with the solutions and the governor supports this approach for softening the blow to schools.

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