The South Dakota Senate is on its way to agreeing with the House that the primary cause of shortages of teachers and other workers is low pay. Yesterday, Senate Appropriations approved Senate Bill 170, which would raise legislator pay from $6,000 to $10,000 a year. Former legislator Frank Kloucek went to Pierre to say, "Don't do it!" but the committee voted 6–2 to embrace the simple economic logic voiced by SB 170 sponsor Senator Craig Tieszen (R-34/Rapid City):
Sen. Craig Tieszen said his proposal is designed to make it easier for residents to make it to Pierre. He said some people don't run for office because the pay is too low.
"I think we're at a point where it makes it hard for some people to serve," he said [James Nord, "SD Senate Panel Approves Measure to Hike Legislator Salaries," AP via Rapid City Journal, 2015.02.12].
Senator Tieszen's majority leader, Sen. Tim Rave (R-25/Baltic) agrees that we must pay people more to get them to take tough jobs:
Senate Majority Leader Tim Rave, a Republican from Baltic, said he's watched it become more and more difficult to recruit candidates over his 13 years in office. The Legislature typically is in session from mid-January to mid-March. They have one day at the end of March to consider vetoes.
Whether or not the bill passes — similar proposals have failed in the past — Rave said the issue "needs to be brought to the limelight" [Nord, 2015.02.12].
The House has passed three bills to put more money in legislators' pockets, on the argument that low pay deters candidates from entering the field.
So tell me again, Governor Daugaard, why do we need a Blue Ribbon Task Force to figure out why South Dakota is running out of teachers, when your own Legislature seems to understand that we solve workforce shortages by raising pay?