PIERRE – The new chair of S.D. Democratic Party today said the Gov. Mike Rounds administration had been a disaster to K-12 education, especially as Rounds exits office and Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard steps into the role of his boss.
“The budget unveiled today will mark a new low in the GOP War on Education with K-12 education getting hit with a 5 percent chop, breaking the promise made 15 years ago to either provide the rate of inflation or 3 percent more, whichever is less,” Sen. Ben Nesselhuf, D-Vermillion, said. “This is about priorities. The Rounds-Daugaard administration can find $38 million for a foreign oil pipeline that was not requested nor needed. Children got a very different message: You are no longer needed and you’re on your own.”
The annual budget speech was set for 1 p.m. today in the House Chamber of the State Capitol before members of the S.D. Legislature. In discussions with the press, Rounds said he would chop 5 percent from the state’s required allotment through the state aid formula to education. The current law, created 15 years ago by then-Gov. Bill Janklow as part of his property tax reduction scheme, requires school aid increase according to lesser of the following, the rate of inflation or 3 percent, whichever is less.
“This shows once again that the priorities of the Rounds Daugaard administration are not focused on the people of South Dakota, but rather with enriching their big business pals,” Nesselhuf said. “There is no excuse for this attack on education, especially considering we spent a year listening to the Governor-elect tell the people of South Dakota that there is no budget crisis.
“In good times and in lean, the Rounds-Daugaard administration has shown it doesn’t back up its happy talk about supporting our schools with funding needed to compete with other states,” he said. “Their failure to live up to the law shows their word to teachers, parents, taxpayers and young people is worthless. Clearly, the law means nothing.”
Nessehuf said Daugaard is as guilty as Rounds for breaking the law on funding schools.
“Yes, Daugaard says he’ll write another budget, but here we go again. Daugaard’s in the same room with Rounds while Rounds fires another shot at schools,” he said. “It’s time for Dennis Daugaard to cowboy-up and stand up to Mike Rounds when he’s damaging the integrity of South Dakota’s education system.
“Now is not the time to pitch a bogus budget that breaks the law and violates Pierre’s commitment to our schools and then run out the door. It’s time both Rounds and Daugaard put the money where the law says it belongs and where the people expect it to go.”