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?
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