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Thursday, March 5, 2009

HB 1252: Olson Votes to Take Funding from Education

Here's a bill I should've noticed sooner: HB 1252 proposes to eliminate the education enhancement tobacco tax fund. In 2006, we passed a dollar-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax. The 2007 Legislature then earmarked nine million dollars of that revenue for education programs, including the teacher compensation assistance program.

HB 1252 won't make that money disappear (sorry, smokers, no break for you); it would just go into the general fund to cover whatever the governor and Legislature see fit. But the education programs the earmark supports likely will disappear.

Senator Russell Olson (R-8/Madison) joined the majority on the Senate Education committee that gave HB 1252 a "Do Pass" today. The House has already given its approval, against the wishes of District 8 House duo Fargen (D-Flandreau) and Lange (D-Madison). Given that the tax increase was sold to voters in part as a way to help education, perhaps the full Senate should rethink the Education committee's reasoning.

But the short form: Russell Olson just voted to take nine million dollars away from education.

Tell me again: who's the real friend of education in our delegation?


  1. So, basically Russell is recommending that the $9 million be spent elsewhere in the general fund, taking it away from TCAP and other education funding measures. So we passed a new tax on tobacco promising some of the funds to education, but now we're going to tell the taxpayers that was just a smoke screen to get acceptance so the money could be moved elsewhere later. Not a good decision, politically.

  2. Cory...this is nothing new in South Dakota. Remember the video lottery money and how it was suppose to go to education. Instead they put it into the general fund and it eventually became part of the property tax reduction program. Every time the state has a budget crisis Pierre looks to take money from education. No wonder our poor educators rank last in teacher salary. Why can't the governor and legislator loojk outside the box and come up with some new ideas to fund state services??


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