CLINTON — Funding will once again be the heart of the discussion concerning state education during the upcoming legislative session.
Area lawmakers Sen. Rita Hart, D-Wheatland, and Rep. Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, were on hand at Monday’s Clinton School Board meeting to discuss with board members their priorities for the 2018 session, as well as field questions and concerns from the board.
Hart, a former teacher and an education advocate, shed some light on the importance of school funding, but also how difficult it is for legislators to come to an agreement regarding the issue.
“I know a lot about how important it is that we adequately fund education, and so that is how we’re starting this session off,” Hart said Monday. “We are going into a session where we know that budgeting is going to be super tight... that’s always something that is a concern to people who are looking for an investment in education.”
Lawmakers will also discuss extending, or perhaps not, the one-cent sales tax that has in the past benefitted education entities in a variety of ways, including constructing new buildings, modernizing classrooms and revamping athletic facilities. The original plan came with a sunset provision, with the sales tax plan set to expire in 2029.
Wolfe told board members Monday that she is in favor of removing the sunset altogether, and accepting the one-cent tax permanently.
“I’d say let’s just get rid of (the sunset),” Wolfe said. “Let’s just not put another 10-year or 20-year sunset on it. I support that. There are some talks about putting some restrictions on it... I don’t support that... My understanding is that there have been a few places where it has been abused. But I think that’s a local matter that if people in that local community feel it’s been abused, they can take that up with their school board members.”