“Next in importance to freedom and justice is popular education, without which neither freedom nor justice can be permanently maintained.”
—James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Is this for real?

Amid the fear and loathing of Gov. Daugaard's 10 percent budget cut, some people question the reality of such a doomsday scenario. State legislators, they say, won't let the plan go through.
Based on the state's funding history, this is an understandable reaction. We start out the legislative session with dire predictions and then emerge on the last day feeling some pain, but living to see another day. Did any of us ever think we'd be waxing nostalgic for the Janklow administration and a 1.5 percent increase in state aid?
But, we digress. If people take the time to read up on the issue and get a grasp of the few — very few — ideas being tossed around in Pierre, doomsday scenario does not sound so farfetched.
The point is, the battle for education funding is nothing new in South Dakota. Every year, we return to the scene of pending disaster and somehow,  we end up scraping by. Everyone goes back to his or her business, the bills get paid and the state clutches to its 50th slot in the ranking of education spending.
So, what's different this year? Despite having a governor who professed a profound love and appreciation for education during his campaign, he now refuses to budge on his mandated 10 percent across-the-board-everyone-feels-the-pain budget cut and has tossed the matter into our proverbial lap. The only talk of potential survival is a 1-cent sales tax  — which the governor promises to veto — imposed during the tourist season to get non-South Dakotans to help pay for our responsibility to educate our children. Bold ideas to bring about true change are nonexistent.
For a look at what's being said around the state, here is a small, random sampling of news and opinion:
South Dakota Public Broadcasting on a sales tax vs. budget cuts
DakotaWomen on the mood in Vermillion
Madville Times on S.D. tax breaks for corporations
Rapid City Journal on money the state loses in tax exemptions
The Associated Press on Democrat plans that aren't going anywhere
Mitchell Daily Republic on what's happening to higher education
Argus Leader on the impact of 10 percent cuts on Medicaid

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