State of the States
School Funding Increase Would Come With Caveat
South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds made a pitch last week to increase the state’s education formula spending by a record $6 million—but to some educators it might have felt more like a cut.
That’s because the Republican’s budget proposal omits a $7.3 million payment that the state has made to its schools for each of the past two years.
Those funds were a one-time benefit, though twice-delivered, the Republican cautioned legislators.
“I made no promise that this $7.3 million would be available beyond a second year,” he said in the one-hour speech in Pierre, the state capital.
Yet he acknowledged that some educators have called for the payment to be renewed for another year.
Disregarding the one-time payments, the governor said, the 2.9 percent increase in formula funding is “the largest ongoing increase in state funding per–pupil in 10 years.”
His fiscal 2006 budget, released last month, aims to close a “structural deficit” in state finances over the next two years.
The governor said recent improvements in mathematics and reading scores put the state ahead of 40 other states.
“We can do better,” he added, highlighting three statewide reading initiatives. Mr. Rounds singled out for lengthy applause the top two readers in a statewide reading program last summer: a 3rd grader who read 222 books and a 2nd grader who read 295 books.
Vol. 24, Issue 19, Page 19