This story has been updated.
PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — President Biden’s administration says South Dakota’s public schools and universities would be hurt by the latest debt-ceiling proposal that Republicans passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.
South Dakota’s only House member voted for the proposal, known as the ‘Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023.’ It passed 217-215. “If we don’t act now, 17.5% of taxpayer dollars will go towards paying off interest on our national debt in ten years. This is unacceptable,” Rep. Dusty Johnson, a Republican, stated Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. “@HouseGOP’s plan will address our debt and save taxpayer dollars.”
South Dakota’s senior member of the U.S. Senate, Republican John Thune, issued a statement a half hour later on Twitter, calling for Democrat President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to engage in talks: ‘House Republicans are putting forward a serious bill to rein in government spending. The president needs to join the speaker at the negotiating table to form a plan that is acceptable to both parties to address the national debt.”
According to a statement issued Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education, the House Republicans’ plan would have these effects on public K-12 schools and university students in South Dakota:
— Cut “approximately $14 million in Title I funding for South Dakota schools serving low-income children, impacting an estimated 50,000 students and reducing program funding to its lowest level in almost a decade.”
— Reduce support to approximately 22,000 children in South Dakota with disabilities.
— Limit “educators’ abilities to address student mental health issues, including through
violence, suicide, and drug abuse prevention, by cutting Title IV, Part A funding for
South Dakota schools by about $1.5 million.”
— At the university level, cancel “President Biden’s student debt relief plan, keeping much needed emergency student loan relief of up to $20,000 from 46,000 approved applicants across South Dakota recovering from the effects of the pandemic. It would also block the creation of new, more affordable student loan payment plans.”
— Also at the university level, it “would not only likely eliminate Pell Grants altogether for 200 students in South Dakota, it would also reduce the maximum award by nearly $1,000 for the remaining 46,000 students who receive Pell Grants—making it harder for them to attend and afford college.”
KELOLAND News on Tuesday asked Johnson’s office whether the estimates of the impacts were accurate and asked for a response. KELOLAND News also asked the state Department of Education whether the estimated impacts were accurate. We’re waiting to hear back.
Johnson issued this statement after the vote:
“We are $32 trillion in debt, and if President Biden refuses to negotiate, America will default on our debts in six weeks. Today, House Republicans went to work on both of those problems. The fiscal state of our nation is dire.”
Johnson said he fought to have a cap on federal spending and work requirements in the package. “President Biden has ignored Speaker McCarthy for nearly 90 days – that’s not leadership. I encourage the president to get serious about our out-of-control debt and come to the negotiating table as soon as possible. The ball is in his court.”
According to Johnson, the legislation, if it became law, would:
Set fiscal year 2024 levels at fiscal year 2022 levels—where the government was operating just four months ago—and cap spending at 1% annual growth over the next 10 years.
Eliminate funding for 87,000 new IRS agents.
Reclaim nearly $60 billion in unused COVID-era dollars.
Repeal “Green New Deal” tax credits and subsidies.
Roll back the president’s plan to forgive $465 billion in federal student loans.
Strengthen welfare program work requirements for individuals without children or disabilities, and put into effect energy legislation that the Republican-majority House passed last month.
Johnson said that in exchange the debt limit would be lifted through March 31, 2024, or by $1.5 trillion.
The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate reportedly has no interest in taking up the House Republicans’ measure, however, and President Biden has threatened to veto the legislation if it got through the Senate.
KELOLAND News also asked the South Dakota Board of Regents central office whether the federal Education Department’s numbers were accurate. The regent’s office declined to directly comment, but provided statistics from the 2020-21 academic year.
Those numbers, from a federal report, showed that South Dakota’s total post-secondary enrollment at public and private universities and colleges in the state was 67,050, including 56,610 undergraduates. The same federal report showed 14,039 South Dakota recipients of Pell Grants, which are available to undergraduates only, and 26,347 South Dakota recipients of federal student loans.