Pierre Report: Final budget passed with some alternatives to governor’s cuts

Greetings from Pierre:  We passed the final budget today.  Here are some highlights from the final bill passed by a 27 to 8 vote in the Senate:  K-12 education funding � Senate Bill 152 primed by Sen. Rhoden and co-sponsored by myself provided for school fiscal year 2012 is $4,389.95.  Each school fiscal year thereafter, the per student allocation is the previous fiscal year�s per student allocation increased by the index factor. 

For taxes payable in 2012 and each year thereafter, the levy for the general fund of a school district shall be as follows: (1) The maximum tax levy shall be eight dollars and forty-nine and one tenth cents per thousand dollars of taxable valuation.  (2) The maximum tax levy on agricultural property for such school district shall be two dollars and thirty-eight and eight tenths cents per thousand dollars of taxable valuation.  (3)  The maximum tax levy for an owner-occupied single-family dwelling as defined in section 10-13-40 for such school district shall be three dollars and ninety-six and five tenths cents per thousand dollars of taxable valuation. (2012 taxes are not increased over 2011)

Senate Bill 1110 primed by Sen. Olson appropriated from the general fund sum of twelve million two hundred twenty-two thousand ninety-six dollars ($12,222,096), or so much thereof as may be necessary, to the Department of Education for the purpose of a one-time payment to school districts � $97.01 per student � outside the formula.

Special Education did not experience any cuts and will result in a general funds increase of $2.7 million.

Anticipated student growth of 1,972 students for an enrollment of 125,988 will result in an $8.4 million increase in general funds for FY 2012.  In the 2010 session, HB 1248 was passed which accelerated state aid payments to be based on current student enrollment.  Using the state general funds, FY 2011 budget was also amended by a $$5 million general fund increase due to underestimating student enrollment by approximately 1,000 students.

SB 111 (Sen. Olson) Flexibility is provided for allowing capital outlay funds for certain transportation, insurance, energy, and utility costs for school districts.

South Dakota is unique among states in the wide range of technology services offered to K-12 schools.  While the technology budget did experience a $638,000 cut, the FY 2012 $$7.7 million budget provides telecommunications and bandwidth; interent service, network management & security; DDN video, maintenance, professional services, school support, and DDN training in partnership with DSU & MTI; email, web hosting, web CT, student information system, for all school districts. The cut will require schools to be responsible for replacing �edge� (in the building) equipment.

Northern E Learning � while the original budget for the Board of Regents ($838,000) E-Learning called for a 10 percent cut, HB1235 allows for flexibility for the BOR to restore the cut thereby continuing to provide a wide variety of DDN and online courses to K-12 students.  These courses are free to the schools and are on a priority rating based on sparsity.  For more information on courses and priority ratings: www.northern.edu/Academics/Departments/ E-Learning/K 12Programs/Pages/courses.aspx

Many of you will recall the �Farmer�s Market� legislation passed last year that allowed people an opportunity to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as non-temperature controlled baked or canned goods, in a farmer�s market or roadside stand.  HB 1240 (Senate Prime Nygaard) enhanced last year�s law by adding a provision that a person could sell non-temperature controlled baked goods from the person�s residence for consumption off the premises.

In the provider section of the budget, as an alternative to the flat 10 percent cut the joint appropriations committee came up with an alternative which became part of the general bill. It greatly reduced the cuts to: assisted living and hospice, nursing homes and critical access nursing homes.  It did provide for larger cuts to the three large hospitals, however, these cuts represent only a small percentage of 1 percent of their budgets.

To wrap it up for today, the Legislature provided some alternatives to the the governor�s 10 percent cuts across the  board and, in the license fee increase, the legislature had to over-ride the veto to prevail.  All in all the budget was balanced and the deficit spending has been stemmed.  I would have liked to see better funding for higher education, however, tough times require hard decisions and we did not have the dollars to spread any further.

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