Session 2 Week 5

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Dear Educators.

On Wednesday you may have heard that I stood in support of delaying House Bill 1182. This is true, I did vote to delay it. Now I would like to give you my thoughts on this and clear up some misinformation that I have received by a lot of anonymous text messages on my phone and through other sources. I don’t know how I can make my support for you as educators more clear; the work, time, and effort you put in because you care so deeply about children is laudable and deserves to be recognized monetarily.

I understand there are many of you who may be very unhappy with me. I am one of many legislators who want to provide each of your districts the appropriate funding to provide you with a significant pay increase, but in the past the money the legislature has put into education has not always found its way to the classroom teachers. We want to make 100% sure that before we start putting new dollars into a new plan, that all the assurances are in place to make sure you see those funds.  The governor’s plan, as I laid out in last week’s newspaper article, is split into four bills. The House only has the funding proposal bill, and this bill was a plain and simple $100 million plus sales tax increase, no mention other than non-binding language in the title of it that says “An Act to increase the state sales tax, the state use tax, the excise tax on farm machinery, and amusement device tax for the purpose of increasing education funding and reducing property taxes, and to declare an emergency.” That’s all education was mentioned in this bill. The Senate has 3 bills, numbers 131, 132, and 133. At this point these bills lay out the mechanisms that will ultimately make sure you see this new money. SB 131 is primarily the new funding formula plan and at the time of writing this email it has not even been scheduled to have its first hearing in front of a committee.

What I’m driving at is there are some of us in the House who do not want to get the cart before the horse when it comes to such a serious issue. We want to make sure we get it correct and it will actually benefit educators before any other uses. I believe we can do that, and I think we owe it to taxpayers to at least have the conversations about finding existing revenue before passing the largest tax increase in state history. We also have to weigh many other issues that demand funding. One example is the direct service providers, who make an average of $11.25 an hour in South Dakota.  As a legislator I need to do due diligence and think about everyone in this state including the taxpayers who we are asking to foot the bill for this.

If 1182 does not pass this next week please do not lose heart and think all hope is lost. The legislature is a deliberative and complicated system, even if something dies does not mean that issue is dead, there is always a way to bring an idea back to life. If 1182 does pass I will fight like crazy to make sure that money doesn’t go anywhere other than to educators.

In closing I hope you can better understand my heart and where I’m coming from on this very important issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any thoughts or concerns. Many of you have my cell phone number but if any of you don’t it is 605-770-9708. Please identify yourself, it’s really difficult to respond when you know who I am but I don’t know with whom I’m conversing. my email is rep.klumb@state.sd.us and I do my best to respond. I know some of you didn’t receive a personal response to your email, call or text this past week and for that I apologize but I had this email in mind and thought it may answer some of your questions. Again thank you for your dedicated service to our state and the children who reside in South Dakota.

Representative Josh Klumb.