We should all demand better

We should all demand better

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Ryan Bruns

A few weeks ago I had a newspaper reporter reach out to me on an investigative follow up to my then most recent blog that was published in several newspapers across the state as an opinion editorial. He was curious about the governor's comments about internet in Mellette, SD and had gone on an online streaming service to review her comments about the lack of high-speed internet in Mellette, but he could not find it. I was out of the office at the time and thought I would look into it the next day and point him in the right direction and to the right time said comments were made. But...they were no longer in the address that is published online. I think my voice is being heard.

Now I'm going to take you on a short adventure that I myself took this morning. Some kind soul (she knows who she is) has been leaving a copy of our local newspaper in the office in the morning that is delivered for our high school classes. I noticed a large picture of Governor Noem on the front page and I began reading the article that was published below it on her State of the State Address. I would say that the perusal was perfunctory at best and I quickly reached Continued on 9A. Something else on the front page caught my eye: Burrito bowls. There was an article about burrito bowls and included a recipe, when I got to Continued on 9A I quickly turned the pages and finished the burrito article. I then sent a message to a friend who is coming over for Super Bowl asking if he would like burrito bowls on the menu. He did, and told me he planned to bring spicy jalapeno pinwheels (but not for the kids, just plain for them). My wife agreed as well. I finished the article on the State of the State Address. And went about my daily duties.

Time went by, and I took care of numerous items, but nagging at the back of my mind was a little voice: go back and read that governor article again. And there it was on the front page, Governor Noem quoted as saying, "My No. 1 priority with additional, on-going money will be to provide increases to K-12 schools, providers, and state employees." Another South Dakota Governor had that same priority recently for education. Governor Dennis Daugaard created the Blue Ribbon Task Force, a bipartisan group of individuals who made a recommendation to Governor Daugaard that led to legislation that created an ONGOING revenue source for education, the 1/2 Cent Penny Sales Tax.

I had to ask myself how can I find crystal clear nearly tangible evidence that dollars exist somewhere promised to the educators of South Dakota?

Did you know the average person googles 3-4 times a day? That translates into around 1,200 times per year. That's my first dabble in math for the day, there was more to come. I google a significant amount of times more in a day than that. After wondering what 1/2 cent sales revenue would amount to I again turned to my good friend Google.

You have to use the right words to lead you to the information you're seeking. I was led to South Dakota's Bureau of Finance and Management website. There in the dashboards is the most recent tax revenues through December Fiscal Year 2020 (google sd bfm dashboards and you can find it too). On page 8 is the number for 4.5% of all sales--actual YTD Net Sales and Use Tax receipts. Using my trusty high school algebra skills I thought I would never use in life the number provided indicates total sales of over 12 billion dollars. When I apply .5% to that number the result is over 63 million dollars. By law the majority of that money is earmarked for education, yet the current governor's recommendation is for a 0.0% increase in funding for K-12 schools in South Dakota. Again South Dakota legislators, I implore you to do the right thing. We should all demand better.

Our children deserve better. #ourchildrendeservebetter

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