Noem worries that restrictions on federal COVID-19 aid may not prevent education cuts

KELOLAND.com Original
KELO Education Funding

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — So far, the $1.25 billion in federal money coming to South Dakota may not prevent cuts to education and health care in the state budget, Gov. Kristi Noem said.

Dr. Brian Maher of the Sioux Falls School District said he’s already anticipating cuts to the state education budget because of reductions in state revenue.

The state Legislature will meet in a special session in June.

“Legislatures don’t reconvene to add money to a budget,” Maher said.

Noem said in Thursday’s news conference that it’s possible cuts to education and health care could be avoided if the rules were changed for the use of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or, CARES Act, money.

South Dakota’s designated $1.25 billion to the state but it must be used for COVID-19 relief, which doesn’t include replacing lost revenue such as in sales tax, Noem said.

“(Congress) has tied our hands,” Noem said on Thursday.

One reduction Maher expects is in the 2% increase earmarked for teacher’s salaries. The 2% would likely be reduced or cut completely, he said.

The state will get some money designated for COVID-19 education relief.

South Dakota should get $7.9 million in the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund or GEER. That money can be used for K-12 education and higher education.

The federal government has also designated Education Stabilization Fund, which provides $13.5 billion in K-12 formula grants through the CARES Act. How much states receive is based on a formula related to Title I funding.

In the meantime, the Sioux Falls District is preparing for state budget changes by not adding planned staff positions, Maher said.

The district won’t know more until June, Maher said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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