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Governor Gets Quarter of “New Money” for K-12 from Budget Trick

Governor Daugaard is increasing K-12 spending by 2%... or is he?

The Governor is recommending a 2.0% inflationary increase to the base per student allocation for FY2016, which is 0.5% higher than the statutory required 1.5% increase for FY2016. This brings the per student allocation for general education to $4,876.76 for FY2016, an increase of $95.62 per student over the base FY2015 level [Bureau of Finance and Management, "Summary of Recommended Budget Adjustments," Fiscal Year 2016 proposal, 2014.12.02, p. 1].

O.K., looking good so far. 2% is better than a kick in the pants, and it's better than the 1.5% statute requires. The Governor's proposed per-student allocation also reaches a landmark: for the first time, the Governor is proposing to spend more money per student than Governor Mike Rounds and the Legislature did in FY 2011. But don't cheer too loudly: the percentages are simply catching up with Dennis. His "new norm" of setting education back five years remains the norm.

But wait—read the next paragraph in the budget summary, and you may see that 2% isn't really 2%:

In addition to the inflationary increase to the formula, the Governor also recommends funding for the Technology in Schools budget, payments to sparse school districts, and statewide assessment costs to be included as an additional component in the state aid formula. The budget increase for state aid to general education will be offset by corresponding decreases within the Technology in Schools, Sparsity, and Educational Services and Resources budgets, for a net savings of $2,605,288 in general funds. The net savings is used to increase the per student allocation growth from 1.5% to 2.0% [BFM, 2014.12.02, p. 1].

A quarter of the K-12 increase—the difference between 1.5% and 2.0%—appears not to be new money. It's a budget trick, moving money for tech, sparsity, and tests from a separate column into the general fund. The Governor isn't making any tests go away or sending BIT guys out to fix the schools computers for them or pulling sparse school district fifty miles closer to Rapid City. If I'm reading this right, schools won't really have 2% more money to work with. They'll have 1.5% more, the minimum effort the law says Governor Daugaard has to make.

And minimum effort for education is what the Governor has been doing all along.

Update 06:10 CST: A few pages down, the "Executive Management" budget gets a 15.6% increase. What was I saying about priorities?


  1. Catherine Ratliff 2014.12.03

    The man has no vision, no awareness, no empathy, no sense of accountability. Notably, he again dismisses the working and disabled poor who cannot navigate the SSI/SSD system and do not qualify for Affordable Care Act subsidies. Daugaard will leave no footprint in the Republican-trampled SD landscape.

  2. Steve Sibson 2014.12.03

    "They'll have 1.5% more, the minimum effort the law says Governor Daugaard has to make."

    No Cory, the 1.5% is the maximum allowed by the law.

  3. Wayne B. 2014.12.03

    Re: Your update, Cory.

    Looks as though most of that increase is from 23 new FTEs. I wonder where those positions are tied, and wonder if that'll float, given how FTE averse our legislature is.

  4. Catherine Ratliff 2014.12.03

    Susan Wismer frequently pointed out that we could raise teacher salaries $7,000 and STILL be 51st. Which makes me wonder, why does SD have any teachers at all. What is the dynamic that keeps them here. Could it be some remnant of the old system where smart women couldn't break in to the male-dominated high-paid jobs and so they taught? (And we did have great teachers as a result.) I wonder what the male-female earnings ratio is in SD.

  5. Craig 2014.12.03

    It actually makes perfect sense. Keep funding education at the bare minimum level and keep the public uneducated. This ensures they will grow up in a sea of ignorance, and thus vote the same people into office year after year because with a massive lack of critical thinking skills they will simply accept the status quo without ever bothering to ask themselves if we are capable of more.

    If you think education is overfunded or even adequately funded in South Dakota, it is fairly clear which party you subscribe to.

    Nothing to see here - move along now. They will act like they care about education during the next election cycle by which time the public will have long forgotten about budget gimmicks.

  6. JeniW 2014.12.03

    Catherine, I have had those same thoughts. Why should the state pay more as long as teachers are willing to work at the wage/benefit levels that they get?

    I can appreciate loving our careers to make some sacrifices, but at what point will the teachers say that "enough is enough" especially when there are other occupations that can be more financially and emotionally more satisfying?

    But I wonder too, how many stay in the teaching field because their significant other has an occupation in the same community?

  7. tara volesky 2014.12.03

    Everybody wants to teach in larger towns where there isn't much of a shortage, so pay teachers more where there are shortages. Math and English and special education are probably the hardest areas to fill.

  8. leslie 2014.12.03

    well i'm no expert but I can think of dozens of wives of top dogs in town who taught, not because they had to, but perhaps because that was the only thing available, ... until a corporate or state board(s) position was steered their way. huge suppositions of course. not all republicans, but probably most of them.

  9. tara volesky 2014.12.03

    Teaching is like the service, low pay, but put in your years and retirement is great.

  10. Owen reitzel 2014.12.03

    They're not staying in the field or retiring. That's were the shortage comes into play

  11. tara volesky 2014.12.03

    A retired teacher friend of mine from Wisconsin is getting about $75,000 dollars a year in retirement. Haven't they been breaking up the teachers' union? The state can't afford to keep paying out at that rate. I think it would make more sense to give more money to school districts where there is a teacher shortage. Target the districts such as rural SD where there is a shortfall.

  12. GoJacksJC 2014.12.03

    The issue is that the teacher shortage contributes to retirement funding shortfalls, as they have fewer teachers contributing to the retirement pool. In addition, if the argument is that we should cut pensions for new teachers, that will be another disincentive for young people considering becoming teachers.

  13. Wayne B. 2014.12.03

    GoJacks, if we believe the audits, the SD retirement fund is one of the few in the nation which is actually solvent. I don't think anyone is thinking we'll have to consider cutting retirement benefits.

  14. GoJacksJC 2014.12.03

    Wayne, I would like to be optimistic, but I think most pensioners elsewhere believed that their funding was solvent too, and now they are faced with cuts. I think Tara makes a valid point regarding sustainable pension funding levels; however, if leadership does not prioritize funding education now, where do you think one of the first places they would look to make additional cuts would be (probably without even considering alternatives that could eliminate, or at least reduce, the cuts)?

  15. Jaka 2014.12.03

    Pensions (funds) result from percentages of wages paid into the state-managed fund. As wages stagnate, or decline, the pool (fund) shrinks. Repubs view teachers like frogs in a pot of water--slowly, slowly bring up the heat and they won't jump out at all..
    Looks like FTE's in the Executive Management budget item are going up quite a lot also, like Round's admin. Also looks like it's more important to spend money on Ellsworth than teachers.
    Administrator's DO NOT deserve the pay differential they currently garner, absolutely not.

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