Keeping our promise

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By Gov. Dennis Daugaard

Two years ago, South Dakotans joined together to solve a long-standing problem. Our state’s average salaries for teachers were lowest in the nation. Even after adjusting for cost of living differences, teachers made significantly more in our neighboring states. I heard from many educators that the problem had reached its breaking point. As many older teachers retired, schools were struggling to fill vacant positions.

The Blue Ribbon Task Force met throughout 2015, and after seeking input from thousands of South Dakotans, it recommended a number of solutions. I proposed several legislative changes based on that report, and a bipartisan coalition in the State Legislature passed versions of those proposals with two-thirds votes. We raised the state sales tax to put more money into education, changed the funding formula to prioritize teacher pay and put strict requirements in place for use of the new money.

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