Legislative Highlights 3-20-13

Posted March 19, 2013 at 4:38 pm


The only day remaining of the 2013 South Dakota Legislative Session is veto day on March 25th. There were 492 bills introduced in this year’s session and 271 bills were either unsuccessful or were tabled as their content may have been amended into another bill. There were 221 bills that passed through both chambers of the legislative process and were delivered to the Governor’s desk for final consideration. As previously mentioned, the final legislative day is veto day when legislators will return to Pierre to consider overriding any bills that the Governor has vetoed. Consideration of the vetoed bills will take two-thirds passage of the seated members in each of the House and Senate Chambers in order to override the Governor’s veto.

Dick Werner bw.jpg

The fiscal year 2014 budget (House bill 1185) was the final bill that was approved late in the evening of the final day of the regular legislative session. The approved fiscal 2014 budget is $4.1 billion of which $1.7 billion is in federal funds or 41% of the overall budget, $1.3 billion in state general funds or 32%, and finally $1.1 billion in other funds or 27%. The 2014 year budget is balanced without raising any taxes and provided additional one-time funding for K-12 education and Medicaid along with the state’s universities and technical schools.

In addition to the 3% increase in ongoing funding in the Governor’s proposed budget for K-12 education and Medicaid providers, the budget calls for one-time funding increases that were added by the Joint Appropriations Committee. The one-time funding includes an additional 1% for K-12 funding or $5.8 million in general fund dollars and an additional $5.8 million in general fund dollars for Medicaid providers that is matched by federal or other fund dollars for total funding to Medicaid providers of $12.1 million. Two new scholarship funds were established with each receiving $1.5 million in one-time general funding. The first scholarship fund is the critical teaching needs scholarship which is targeted to encourage additional college students to pursue specific teaching course degrees that K-12 schools have difficulty in filling. The second is the critical needs scholarship fund which will assist those students with the greatest financial need to successfully meet their financial obligations to attend a school of higher education in South Dakota.

I want to thank everyone in District 22 (Beadle and Kingsbury Counties) for allowing me to be a part of your legislative team.

In next week’s column I will share a personal experience from my first legislative session since veto day will have not yet occurred. Thank you to everyone for your interest in state government and again thank you for allowing me to represent you. You can contact me at 350-1371 or at my personal email at dickwerner_5@hotmail.com or my legislative email at Rep.Werner@state.us.sd.

Jim White bw.jpg

Throughout these last few weeks I have been asked how the State Aid to K-12 general education funding formula works. The amount of state aid provided to local school districts for general K-12 education is based on a formula that starts with the same amount of funding per student. Small schools receive more money per student. The total amount of per-student funding for a school district is paid for by a combination of money raised by the school district through local property taxes and money raised by the state through statewide taxes.

The state-aid formula starts with the same amount of money for each student’s education. It is called per-student allocation. Next year’s per student allocation is $4,626.00 per student. 53.8% of this amount comes from state aid, and 46.2% comes from local effort. The following two examples will illustrate how the funding formula determines the local effort for Beadle and Kingsbury Counties

BEADLE COUNTY:

Total Valuation: $1,449,720,191

Agricultural valuation–49%–$715,118,630

Owner occupied valuation–30%–$424,813,969

Commercial valuation–21%–309,787,592

Total aid to K-12, Beadle County (2,682 students X 4,626)–$12,406,930

State Aid–53.8%–$6,674,930

Local Effort–46.2%–$5,732,000

Agriculture–18% X $5,732,002 = $1,031,760

Owner Occupied–33% X $5,732,002 = $1,891,560

Commercial–49% X $5,732,002=$2,808,680

KINGSBURY COUNTY:

Total Valuation: $686,992,908

Agricultural valuation–74%–$510,914,693

Owner occupied Valuation–15%–$102,600,819

Commercial valuation–11%–$76,477,396

Total aid to K-12 Kingsbury (1,072 students X $4,626)–$4,959,072

State Aid–53.8%–$2,667,981

Local Effort–46.2%–$2,291,091

Agriculture–18% X $2,291,091 = $412,396

Owner occupied–33% X $2,291,091=$756,060

Commercial–49% X $2,291,091=$1,122,634

I ask for your understanding as you go through these examples as some of the information is based on estimates (ex. students per county). There are additional state-aid formulas that are a part of funding for K-12 education (ex. small school factor, sparsity factor, and special education). I will discuss these funding sources in next week’s column. Thank you for the opportunity to be your District 22 Senator. You can continue to contact me at 350-5127 or sen.white@state.sd.us

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Legislative Highlights

I would like to look back on the main run of the 88th Legislative Session and tell you that I’m proud of the job our legislators did; however, I don’t believe we have our priorities straight. As I stated throughout my campaign, I believe the true funding priorities in the State of South Dakota should be our children, our elderly and those who can’t help themselves. And in the final week of the Session we fell short once again of adequately funding those priorities.

The final week of the Session centers on the general appropriations bill (this year HB 1185) that appropriates money for the ordinary expenses of the legislative, judicial and executive departments of the state, the expenses of state institutions, interest on the public debt and for common schools. During the entire Session, members of the appropriations committee review budgets of all departments of state government, all bills concerning special appropriation of state revenues and generally any bills relating to the appropriations process.

After this process is complete and the general appropriations bill is issued, agencies, individuals and organizations attempt to amend portions of the bill. There were approximately 79 proposed amendments to the bill considered by members of the Appropriations Committee during the final week. Members of the committee vote on either accepting or rejecting each amendment and they pass or fail usually down party lines.

In an effort of futility, the minority party attempted on both the House and Senate Floors to amend HB 1185 on the final day of Session to:

Add $4,580,699 to our long-term care providers, community mental health providers and community support to providers on a one-time basis;

Add $2,097,959 to our state aid to education to be distributed to school districts based on actual FY12 enrollment;

Add $21,000 for operating expenses in general funds to include veteran’s transport services;

Decrease an appropriation of $500,000 to the Legislative budget for our own expenses and travel expenses-about $5,000 per lawmaker (which incidentally is more money than the state allocates per student for school funding per year!);

And to NOT take $2,000,000 of state general fund dollars and transfer it to the South Dakota Cement Plant Retirement Fund.

Unfortunately for South Dakotans, the amendment attempt failed in both houses. Therefore I voted “no” on passage of HB 1185 because of the lopsided nature of priorities as set forth by members of our state legislature.

Although there was an increase in Medicaid spending, our state legislators failed to join the federal Medicaid expansion that could have helped up to 48,000 “working poor” South Dakotans who cannot afford health care. Medicaid expansion is to be reviewed in a summer study session; however, it’s a year lost, a year of federal funding forfeited and necessary help not forthcoming. Education did receive roughly a three percent increase in funding, plus a shot of one-time money. But this funding does not begin to make up for the crippling cuts our schools endured in 2010. We are still $17.00 per student short of the per student allocation based on the 2009 funding figures-or five years ago- in our state.

Therefore, the true crisis our state government faces is a crisis of priorities-that of understanding what we do, why we do it and how we should invest our resources to achieve the results our state citizens truly need. Thank you for your support and making the operation of your state government a priority. Please feel free to contact me at (605) 352-9862 or peggygibson@hotmail.com.

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