Legislative View

Legislative View
I want to use most of my column this week to write about SB 120, an education funding bill that was written by the Alliance for Education, a group representing different sized school districts.

I am happy to be the prime sponsor for this legislation. SB 120 will build up to an annual addition of $100 million into education funding over the next 5 years. It does this without raising taxes. The funding for this legislation comes from the Property Tax Reduction Fund which is funded by video lottery dollars.

This bill would finally put video lottery dollars towards education. Taxes would also be kept at bay by limiting state growth to 3.5 percent in all other areas for five years. This is better than what we have made the schools live on for the past 10 years. This is simply recognition that we have been unfairly shortchanging school districts and now is the time to remedy that. This will actually reduce property taxes because it would eliminate the need for continued opt-outs.

My bill that would have held the Governor's Club accountable to the same reporting requirements as every other political fund failed along a party line vote in the state affairs committee. The South Dakota Newspaper Association also testified on behalf of this bill stating that an open government works best.

There were no opponents and when the majority on the committee had an opportunity to justify their no vote, they chose to remain silent. I have always believed that there is no good reason for this double standard, and the opponents proved this by their silence.

The next bill I had up in that same committee was another one dealing with campaign finance. SB 194 would have required that legislative candidates be treated the same as statewide candidates for reporting purposes. Currently, legislative candidates only have to report their campaign finances by Jan. 1 of the next year, two months after the election. I have always felt that the public has a right to that information in a timely manner.

In the last election cycle there was a candidate who spent more the $100,000 and several who spent more the $20,000. It is time we recognize the dominating role that money plays in our legislative races and have adequate reporting requirements. SB 194 would have required that we file our reports a week before the election.

There was again no testimony in opposition and the only comment made by the committee was that it was too much work. I was not discouraged and will continue to push for open government.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about legislation, please contact me during the week at (605) 773-3821, on the weekend at (605) 624-6178 or anytime by email at sen.nesselhuf@state.sd.us.

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