The Madison Daily Leader ran this letter to the editor on education funding from my Orland neighbor Charlie Johnson:

What is more unnerving than reduced funding for K-12 education? Answer-a governor proposing a 10% cut in K-12 funding. Reality tells us that reduced funding for K-12 education is a disaster of our own making. Reality tells us that reduced funding for K-12 education will display the sad fact that this current adult generation will be the first since statehood to provide less in educational opportunities for our youth in comparison to all previous generations. Our state constitution requires adequate funding for education. Our state constitution does not require a REDI fund for corporate subsidies. We don't have a funding problem as much as we have a priority problem.

A lack of vision and leadership is failing to bring about a funding solution to education. Sensible compromise can bring about a temporary fix to education funding albeit stagnant or less than desirable.

For the future, we as a state need to bring about change as to how we fund education. Right now we have an 18th century tax system to provide for 21st century education. To bring about viable funding for K-12 education there must be a plan that involves several principles.

  1. Must be 100% dedicated to education.
  2. Must involve every South Dakota resident and corporation operating in the state-everyone has "skin in the game".
  3. Must replace dollar for dollar the present state/property tax funding for the school aid formula. Those replaced funds could be used to fund other critical needs like Medicaid, higher education, school capital improvements, roads, etc. or enact property tax relief.
  4. Must be broad based with a low rate and allows no exemptions.
  5. Funds education to a point that in combination with wise local decisions will bring about excellence in students and rewarding compensation for professional educators.

We must beef up education. Better education expects to be funded [read more on the "BEEF" plan here].

Sincerely,
Charlie Johnson