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Friday, March 12, 2010

Russell Olson Votes to Zero Increase for K-12 Funding

District 8 Senator Russell Olson voted this afternoon to set school funding back for years to come. He joined the slimmest majority in a 18–17 Senate vote to approve Senate Bill 22 and change South Dakota law to deny our public K-12 schools the 1.2% funding increase they'd been promised.

District 12 Senator Sandy Jerstad expresses my sentiments best:

"I don't know how you're going to go home and face your principals, your superintendents, your teachers, and all the parents. Do you have any parents in your district, any grandparents in your district? Can you smile and say, 'Yeah, we didn't think education was that important this year, so we didn't give you anything this year. We've got other priorities,"' Jerstad said. [quoted by Ben Dunsmoor, "Heated Debate on Education Funding," KELOLand.com, 2010.03.12]

Senator Olson will be home for a couple weeks now before the Legislature passes the final state budget. Ample opportunity for his friends in education to call, write, and visit to hear him explain why education is not his first priority.

Or maybe Russ just figures the LAIC hold a bingo fundraiser for the schools.

Remember: SB 22 goes further than even Governor Rounds wanted, including disabled students in the funding formula reduction. Perhaps the Governor can seize this opportunity to wield the veto and give the Legislature a chance to reconsider its vote in light of two weeks of conversations with us folks back home.

Senator Olson was alone in District 8 supporting this destructive plan. Reps. Fargen and Lange both voted to protect education. Other votes of interest among statewide candidates:
  • Voting for SB 22 and against education: Reps. R. Blake Curd, Kristi Noem, Tom Deadrick; Senators Jason Gant and Gordon Howie.
  • Voting against SB 22 and for education: Senators Julie Bartling, Scott Heidepriem, David Knudson, and Ben Nesselhuf.


  1. We either believe in K-12 Education or we don't. We have a rainy day fund at the State Level known as reserves in the amount of $700 Million that have not been touched.

    The 1.2% mandatory legally-required minimum for education amounts to around $57 per student increase and could easily be funded from reserves.

    Putting our economic woes on the backs of our youngest citizens, harming their educational opportunities, will have long-term effects.

  2. Maybe these young people and those with secure jobs need to buckle up for a year or so. I'm with Russ on this one!


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