As we head into the final week of the legislative session, the school funding changes are all but a foregone conclusion and Medicaid expansion is on hold for now. This week will be a busy one, with a number of bills to finalize action on, and the finalizing of the budget.
HB 1182 passed last Tuesday, and your taxes will increase, most likely on June 1st. State sales tax will be 4 1/2 percent, and unless the US Congress or the US Supreme Court allow the collection of internet sales tax and those revenues meet up with the half penny sales tax revenue, that change is permanent.
SB 131 and 133 are the other parts of the education changes, and we will take those up early next week. These changes are more controversial in our legislative district than others, because of our average school size and the presence of our “other revenues”, mainly the wind farms in eastern Brookings and Southern Deuel counties. Some amendments have been made to the original bill that drop the bottom number of a 12.5 student/teacher ratio down to 12.0, which have addressed a few concerns among the smallest of schools.
After we finish with that, we are working on the final numbers to wrap up Fiscal year 2016, which ends June 30th, and then finalizing the budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which starts July 1st, 2016. The good news is the State of South Dakota led the nation in statewide economic growth in the third quarter of 2015, in recently released numbers. Sales tax revenue hopefully will reflect that growth and allow us that much more flexibility to make sure we live up to our Constitutional requirement of a balanced budget.
The final week will be a five day week, with much left to conference committees to work out differences between House and Senate amendments to bills, and all work must be completed by Friday, March 11th, the 37th Legislative Day. That will leave Tuesday, March 29th as the 38th and final Legislative Day, where the Legislature meets to consider all remaining vetoes from the Governor. This has been a difficult session, but as we wrap it up, I can say I’ve learned much more this year than last, and I cannot thank you enough for the privilege you’ve given me to serve as your Representative this term. It is the chance of a lifetime that I wish more people would attempt. Thank you.