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Daugaard Opens Legislature with Address on Roads, Workforce… Mum on K-12

Governor Dennis Daugaard addressed several important topics in his State of the State Address to open the 2015 Session of the South Dakota Legislature this afternoon. He made up for a glaring omission from his December budget address by focusing the first half of his speech on roads and bridges. The Governor needed to do that to jump out in front of Senate Bill 1, a massive proposal from the Interim Highway Needs and Financing Committee. Governor Daugaard made clear that he "appreciates" the committee's efforts, but by gum, if taxes are going to get raised and roads get fixed, it's going to be done the way he says so. The Governor says he will be submitting his own bill on road repairs.

To justify the coming tax increases—and among the highlights, Governor Daugaard proposes outdoing Senate Bill 1 by raising the motor fuel tax two cents every year, starting now—the Governor emphasized that our economy and "our entire well-being" depend on good roads, and "our roads are underfunded. Governor Daugaard said nothing about how our economy and statewide well-being depend on K-12 education, and he said nothing about how our K-12 system is underfunded.

The Governor took time to promote his juvenile justice reform plan, which is apparently supported by everybody and requires little salesmanship. He took no time to mention how improvements in K-12 education would keep kids from ever falling into the juvenile justice system in the first place.

The Governor discussed his workforce development plans address the shortage of workers in certain technical fields and in health care. The Governor said nothing about the widely recognized K-12 teacher shortage.

The Governor talked up his rural agricultural development programs. He said the state has won an award for its innovative site-analysis program designed to help counties determine where they can put CAFOs and other big ag businesses. The Governor did not mention that good teacher pay is crucial to sustaining rural communities where the public schools are often the largest employers.

The Governor praised the state's investment in parks and pheasant habitat. The Governor said we need to spend money to preserve grasslands so pheasants have places to live and sustain our hunting our industry. The Governor said nothing about the need to make South Dakota friendly habitat for teachers.

The Governor led a rousing ovation for the South Dakota National Guard, which for the first time in ten years has not one soldier deployed overseas. The Governor did not call for any such ovation for the teachers, firefighters, construction crews, ranchers, stay-at-home moms, or other groups who serve the Republic.

The Governor's only acknowledgement of K-12 education came in praising high school vo-tech classes (which Governor Daugaard's own budget austerity has cut) and dual-credit courses (which are a really good idea, helping kids get a jump on college and save money and helping South Dakota universities recruit South Dakota students).

The bad news from the State of the State Address is that Governor Daugaard does not appear to have any plans to do anything for South Dakota's public school teachers. The good news may be that he doesn't plan to do much to us, either. (Whew—maybe that means we can focus on fixing that really bad House Bill 1044, the Teacher Inquisition bill.)


  1. larry kurtz 2015.01.13

    Marty mentioned on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio that cannabis will be a topic for the legislature.

  2. WayneF 2015.01.13

    Cory, your well-written critique focuses on all that DD thinks is important for South Dakota in the upcoming Congressional session. None of it has anything to do with the most important economic development component: support for K-12 education.

    HB1044 smells a lot likw HB 1234, which old, white retired bankers and businessmen passed but was soundly rejected when it was referred to SD votes the following fall.

    Until the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United is overturned or changed by Constitutional amendment, I think we can expect public education throughout the nation...not just in South suffer.

    DD and the three stooges SD sends to Washington have all been bought by big corporations who see public education as a threat to their control.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.13

    Thanks, Wayne! I agree that the State of the State Address reflects the Governor's priorities for the Legislative Session. I am pleased that roads are a priority. But I found it interested that Governor Daugaard said in his speech that the federal stimulus actually made our roads a little too good. I don't think we can identify any point in the last 50 years where we can say that teacher pay or state aid to K-12 in South Dakota was "too good". Yet the Governor chooses to tackle the road problem first, complete with tax increases. When we've asked for similar high-priority action on K-12 funding, we've been told the money just isn't there. Why are we able to find money for roads but not for schools?

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.13

    Or, more concisely (and harkening to something that either Rep. Paula Hawks or Rep. Julie Bartling said on SDPB's post-game show this afternoon), why are we able to find money for things but not for people?

  5. Jaka 2015.01.13

    Bless you,Cory, for this post! You so hit it on the point to show the deficiencies in this administration and corporate loving government to highlite so well the glaring failings of what is really important to our state---the 'bottom' feeds the 'top'-- but our state gov't seems to only want to 'feed the top' -stubbornly hanging on to Reagan's "trickle-down" economy.
    Like large lakes, natural and man-made, the 'turn-over' WILL happen someday. Fisherman and GFP talk about this phenomenon every summer, the 'turnover',

  6. Steve Hickey 2015.01.13

    First thing after the year of cuts, when the governor took office he made education a priority and passed his Ed reform bill which tied pay increases to measurements and gave pay increases strategically and to some. Voters quickly undid all that and the governor is on to his other agenda items. He already proposed a 2% increase and there is a lot of history of extra one time monies going to Ed (and last year specifically to teacher pay). Not that I like it or agree with it but what I've been saying is that Ed funding is at a standstill. Time for the Ed community to put the pressure on the ag community and change how we tax ag land. Raising summer sales taxes as you all say is regressive and I'd add it's not significant enough.

    Fire away...

  7. Troy 2015.01.13

    State of the State are for where the Governor will be launching initiatives.

    You guys rejected his education ideas and opposed 80% of the people in the legislature. I'm sure the 20% of the Legislature you supported have the heft to carry the ball for you.

    Get your many friends in the legislature cracking and quit expecting those you denigrate professionally and personally to do your work.

  8. Steve Hickey 2015.01.13

    During the address I found myself outlining what I'd say in a state of the people address. Maybe I'll share my notes some time. I need to get my blog going again.

  9. grudznick 2015.01.13

    Mr. Hickey, this 1044 sounds like some common sense conservatism to me. I hope you review it and support it. The teachers had their shot and blocked it so now it is the roads' turn.

  10. JeniW 2015.01.13

    So, if I am understanding correctly, the school districts are going to have to raise money (conduct fundraisers in the future?) eliminate programs and sports that are financially not supported by parents, citizens or businesses, reduce classroom hours to the minimum required by law, start charging tuition for "elective" classes such as home ec, or shut down schools so that students will have to be bussed to the closest school available. Or any combination of above, and/or other alternatives.

  11. Owen 2015.01.13

    1044 is another attack on teachers. When did teachers have they're chance Grud? Teachers have never had a chance.
    It says all the DD has no priority for education

  12. MC 2015.01.13

    Roads? Roads? Yes we need good road to advance the economy, however, the key here is balance. We need to improve all transportation mediums, road, rail, air, and too a very small extent water ways.

    We get it! we do! you want more money for education. How much? If you have a workable idea how to increase funding with out taking away from anything else. Let's have it.

  13. Owen 2015.01.13

    And Rev. Hickey I hope you review and vote against it

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.13

    Troy and Steve, 2012's HB 1234 was a terrible idea that would not have fixed the teacher shortage or anything else. The only good part of it was the Critical Needs teacher scholarship program, and we accepted that when the 2013 Legislature passed that as a separate bill. That should demonstrate that we (like, all of us!) are willing to spend money on good educational reforms that will solve practical problems but not on ideological teacher-bashing that research shows won't work.

    Steve, you talk of the "long economic winter" coming. Might we also be facing a "Long Educational Winter"? Might we be reaching the point where fifty years of neglect, complacency, and the lowest teacher salaries in the nation have let our best teachers and teacher prospects drip, drip, drip away, leaving us with the teacher shortage nearly every administrator in SD today reports?

    The fact that Dennis went downstairs with a wrench and banged on a couple pipes in 2012 doesn't excuse him from helping us figure out a real solution to the rot he's let run rampant in our educational foundation.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.13

    MC? MC! Hugs and kisses! Nice to hear from you.

    Workable plan? When we want to come up with money for roads, Daugaard can apparently find the will to raise taxes and take the money out of everyone's hides. When Janklow wanted $120 million for property tax relief, he found a way. Make me Governor, and I'll give you my moonshot plan to raise teacher $10,000, funded in part by reducing our big reserves and in part by closing sales tax exemptions. Where there's a will, there's a way.

    How's that, MC?

  16. grudznick 2015.01.13

    Seems to me that whining that the Governor didn't talk about teachers enough, didn't speak exclusively about education, and frankly didn't ask all the teachers in the room to stand and take a bow is just pure whining.

    He tried to pay good teachers more and people cried and shot it down. So now it seems like he's moved onto other things. Maybe the teachers should bring some bills or maybe some of you should take a bill to Pierre.

    Instead of just whining that the Governor doesn't talk enough about teachers. Heck, all of you have your own legislatures who you can send a bill to and ask them to float it for a vote. Do that.

  17. grudznick 2015.01.13

    Ms. Jeni, I don't think schools have to hold fund raisers, they should go to the board and say we want to raise taxes so we have more money to pay good teachers more. Or, instead of fund raisers just ask for donations from your community. South Dakota communities will gladly volunteer money for their schools if they know they are good ones and the money isn't going to fat cat administrator bonuses or reserved parking spots.

  18. Owen 2015.01.13

    its called being a leader Grud and DD is no leader. Whining? Really? I guess you don't feel education is that important-like DD.
    Read Cory's post above, it'll help explain it.

  19. grudznick 2015.01.13

    I just wish some teacher would step forward with a bill that you like, Owen.

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.13

    Whining? Grudz, we're talking about a public policy problem that is every bit as detrimental to this state's long-term economic viability as potholes and old bridges. The Governor takes one ill-informed, mean-spirited, and ineffective swing at the public policy problem in the second year of his term, gets schooled by the voters, and now is justified in ignoring that problem and letting it get worse? Give me a break!

    And I just offered you the framework of a teacher funding bill above, in my 18:18 comment to MC. Yea or nay?

  21. grudznick 2015.01.13

    Nay. You want to take our savings and give teachers raises that would continue forever.

    Yea on those tax exemption things though. But the money has to go to everybody, not just some special interest like teachers who are the loudest whiners. Why don't plumbers get it, or the bed-pan changers? Why wouldn't that money be used to reduce other people's tax burdens?

    Just like that thing where the teachers all wanted to tax everybody for just them that the public slammed down with a giant NO! NO! DON'T TAX ME FOR JUST YOU!

    Tax all, all benefit. No special treatment for teachers.

  22. grudznick 2015.01.13

    Maybe they will vote on that law, Owen. Then we will see I guess.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.13

    Rep. Hickey, yes, you need to get your blog going again! I'd love to see those notes!

    Hmm... interesting thought: maybe every legislator's first homework assignment should be to write an 80-minute speech on their top policy priorities. Wait—since you're just legislators and not Governor, we'll let you cut that down to 40 minutes. But I think it would be very interesting to read a collection of such formal policy statements from our Legislators... and to see how many talk about K-12 education more than the Governor did today.

  24. grudznick 2015.01.13

    How many of them would talk about feeding old people? Why is feeding old people less important than teacher teacher teacher. I think that Mr. H is just a whore for attention. If the Governor doesn't talk about teachers for 75 of 80 minutes then he fails. BAH. That is why people are so tired of the teacher whining.

  25. leslie 2015.01.13

    "whoring, whining, BAHing", that's prolly why no one is talking about feeding old people unhealthy food. if we need to we should. put a bill forward old grudz

    cory seems to understand the depth of importance of education, not as a profit center, but as an investment.

    but that doesn't mean he/we will ignore your needs you speak of for those that need help. blahblahblah

  26. SVinRC 2015.01.13

    I just want to point out that teachers shouldn't be the only ones "whining" when it comes to our State's denial of education funding reform- parents should be more concerned that our state pays some of the lowest per student allocations in the nation. The states with the highest levels of achievement generally spend more money on education. When will our Governor and Legislature realize this and make education a priority?

  27. JeniW 2015.01.13

    SVinRC, I suspect, though I am not certain, that as long as their children are going to school, and developing skills and knowledge well enough, there will not be much excitement from very many parents.

    I hope that I am wrong, and parents will be protesting.

  28. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.14

    Grudz, bring it. Show me the statistics on elderly hunger. Show me the steady stream of media articles showing that old folks are short on gravy taters. Show me the chronic underfunding of Meals on Wheels in South Dakota over the last two generations. Show me the outflux of old people moving to Minnesota and Arizona because they can't get enough food in South Dakota.

    Show me, Grudz, that your comment is rooted in empirical data and not just a rhetorical poke to get your jollies from my "rage," and I'll revise my alternative State of the State Address to adopt a moonshot plan to ensure South Dakota's elders are getting enough to eat.

  29. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.14

    SVinRC, I'd be glad to have the help of every parent in the push for better teacher pay. But JeniW makes a good point: this problem has lingered and grown for fifty years precisely because things seem to be fine: the kids go to school, they get decent teachers, they graduate and can get into college and vo-tech and jobs.

    It's just like rot in the basement. Water seeps into one board, two boards, ten boards... it looks kinda yucky, but the house is still standing. You can ignore it until one day the whole foundation collapses.

  30. Steve Sibson 2015.01.14

    " Time for the Ed community to put the pressure on the ag community and change how we tax ag land."

    They have already done that Hickey. That is why some of us are seeing our tax bills increase 20% in one year.

    Clearly Daugaard has proved himself to be a tax and spend liberal.

    We no longer need teachers for Common Core. We need facilitators making sure the kids are at their computers.

  31. SVinRC 2015.01.14

    It's just too bad more parents don't show an interest. I just heard a story about a couple that had their pipes freeze in the exteme cold. They packed up and left for a week's stay in a hotel without thawing the pipes and were surprised when they came home to burst pipes and a house full of water. I guess that's how it will be for the mindless mass of parents that do not pay attention to our State's failing educational system once the "foundation crumbles".

  32. o 2015.01.14

    grudznik: "He tried to pay good teachers more and people cried and shot it down."

    1234, to an outsider, seemed like it was paying "good teachers," but in reality, at the time of 1234 there was spotty evaluation policy across the state (in fact one element of 1234 was to create a state-wide evaluation to identify the "good teachers" - a bit of a cart before the horse element in the legislation). It was a system that poorly identified who ought to get raises, left those decisions subjective, and created a competitive atmosphere in public education that is destructive to the success of students.

    From those ashes, the Commission on Teaching and Learning, the cooperative effort between SDEA and the DOE with input from administrators and school board members completed an excellent evaluation model for implementation (that also provides evidence of student achievement without the corruptive influence of standardized testing).

    "Cried" understates the work many education leaders have shouldered over these years to create a strong growth model for our profession. Worse yet, you continue to devalue education and its dedicated professionals each time you casually toss out you false aspersions, Mr. grudznik; you become the perpetuation of the climate that keeps education an ignored investment in our state. Certainly our teachers suffer for that perpetuation, but it is our children and the long term-health of our state that suffers most from it.

    Politics shouldn't be a sport: it should not be about teams winning and losing and scoring points and demeaning each other. Conservatives and Liberals certainly have different views about how to help education, but at least could we make helping education the focused topic instead of inflicting political wounds on each other? Could we get the people with the most knowledge about education at the table for those discussions?

  33. jerry 2015.01.14

    Immigration was also left out of Daugaards mumbling. I find it odd that with Daugaard's apparent blessing, Marty volunteered to spend tax payer dollars on yet another trip down the rabbit hole. I can see why he left it out, more light on Marty only show what incompetence we have as a governor and as his chief law enforcer. The cops even know better than these two.

    Looks like Marty and Daugaard will go toe to toe with the police on this one. They may buffalo the local yokel cops on the murder? of Benda, but now they are gonna have to deal with a whole bunch of smart ones.

  34. teacher 2015.01.14

    Wow, I've been teaching for 34 years and I love what I do. I don't need teacher teacher teacher but could use teacher . He and you makes me feel like a second class citizen and that teaching our youth is not important AT ALL. I'm not sure what I did to deserve that. Oh and my mom is 79 and she has all the food she needs :)

  35. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.14

    We'll keep trying to change the conversation, Teacher. You're right: you don't need constant rah rah rah! You just need fair compensation and respect, which you don't get now.

  36. MC 2015.01.14

    Cory, to be fair, I would like to see an increase given to K-12 education. Not just one time monies but some kind of permanent increase. Say proceeds from video lottery should go to education. Or money from drug busts go to local school boards or some other mechanism to ensure funds.

    Our transportation infrastructure, Strike that, our entire infrastructure is dire need of updating. The power grid, could fail at any time, Internet is based on 1960's technology. We have a lot a work to do. What good is teaching our students the latest and greatest theories if we can't get a light bulb to work? What could is it to raise the greatest farmers in the world, if they can't get their crop to market?

    We need some balance. Education and Roads and public safety and Social Services and one and on.

  37. Steve Sibson 2015.01.14

    MC, there would be plenty of money for those updates even the weren't sending tons of money to the Dept of Social Services to pay shrinks.

  38. MC 2015.01.14

    Maybe we should get those shrinks to teach @ the schools?

  39. larry kurtz 2015.01.14

    maybe 66 county seats could be reduced to ±26.

  40. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.01.14

    MC, I'll take balance. We didn't get it yesterday. I am willing to posit that road funding and K-12 funding require equal attention. Teaching kids is no good if we don't have roads; paving the roads is no good if we don't have teachers to teach our kids. Moonshot both problems.

  41. Deb Geelsdottir 2015.01.14

    Grudz, you know I like you. I think you're interesting and funny and smart. You make me laugh.

    You are not being fair to teachers. What you are saying really sounds like cheap shots and you are not normally a cheap shot gentleman. In my experience as a teacher and with teachers (Pastors in small towns generally get to know the teachers well.); there are perhaps 5% who are not very good. Fewer than that are really no good and the school board should do it's job and fire them.

    That information pretty much mirrors statistical information. I really wish you would be kinder to them.

    You know, in most every case, people are encouraged to speak up for themselves. You do it here on every post. So do the rest of us ornery Madizens. What's wrong with teachers speaking up and Madizens speaking up for them?

    One of the first things I learned as a pastor (Hickey, have you had similar experiences?), is that the citizens of the town often feel that the local rev ought to be happy with what she gets. I've seen the same attitude towards teachers. In small towns, those two are often the only well-educated professionals. That seems to breed a resentment among some citizens.

    Grudz, I feel a similar sense of resentment towards teachers from you, though I won't guess about the source.

    Anyway, my friend, I hope you will think carefully about the things I've said here. At the same time, you don't have to disclose anything to me or any of us. I just want you to consider my thoughts. Thanks Mr. Grudz.

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