Legislative Report By Rep. H. Junior Engbrecht Relax. The South Dakota Legislature has finished its work and has adjourned until March 23 when it will reconvene and take up any vetoes that the governor may have. As a whole, the session went by rather smoothly. There will always be disagreements and consequently many compromises were made. These compromises are not necessarily along party lines but are made for the good of the people of this great state.
HB 1178 is a good example of compromise. In its original form there were seven categories of Special Education funding. This bill was introduced by Rep. Ruchter of Sioux Falls. It ended at five categories, deleting two of the softer or milder categories. A few schools will receive less funding. Remember that the funding cuts are in the softer categories.
Funding of education, at all levels, is a very huge challenge for the Legislature. There are many reasons for this. Consider K through 12. Some districts have a large tax base in proportion to its students. Other school boards and their administration may be very conservative whereas a neighboring district may be just the opposite. One district may have a heavy bonded indebtness and the other district no debt.
Our universities' problems are different but are very complex. On the university level the Legislature deals with the Board of Regents who in turn must deal with and consider the demands of the administration of the six public universities. Rate of salary increases for professors, tenure, and large building or repair projects off individual universities usually come before the Legislature. Many of these requests are in the millions of dollars.
I might add that the one large request the Legislature had was for building repair, using bonding authority, and not general fund dollars. This was for replacing the roof of the Dome. I would hope that this very short explanation will give you, the tax payer, an insight into some of the problems facing the Legislature in regard to education.
On the local government level, the big issue was the funding of extra road repair and road building. The motorists of South Dakota will be paying four cents per gallon in taxes more for fuel. They also will be paying up to $12 more for license plates on their cars. Noncommercial vehicles licenses will increase from $10 to $15. A large share will be at $10.
Trailer owners will pay from $5 to $10 more for their plates. There will also be a $2 increase in motorcycle license plates.
Motor home owners will also pay substantially more for their license. Noncommercial gross weight vehicles license will be $7 higher. County treasurers will be able to charge the actual costs of mailing license plates and tabs (eliminates set rate in law).
There are many comments that could be made about the session. However, I will not take up your valuable time. If you have questions please call 648-3635. I thank you for calling me during the session; it was very helpful. It has been my pleasure to serve you. Thanks again.