Noem’s Stronger Families Scholarships bill killed by Senate committee

The Senate Education committee voted 4-2-1 Tuesday morning to kill Gov. Kristi Noem’s Senate Bill 100.

SB 100 would’ve created a $15 million scholarship fund through the Department of Education spanning three years for children in foster care to receive scholarships up to $4,000 for a variety of K-12 expenses.

Eligible scholarship expenses included tuition and fees to private schools, tutoring or teaching services, purchases of curriculum and instructional materials, tuition and fees for online learning, fees for exams and tests, technology purposes and transportation to and from public school if they open-enroll, or if that district doesn’t provide transportation for the student.

Governor Kristi Noem gives the State of the State address on Tuesday, January 10, 2023, at the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre.

Sens. Sydney Davis (R-Burbank), Kyle Schoenfish (R-Scotland), Steve Kolbeck (R-Brandon) and Tom Pischke (R-Dell Rapids) voted to kill it, while Sens. Jessica Castleberry (R-Rapid City) and Shawn Bordeaux (D-Mission) voted to save it. Sen. Tim Reed (R-Brookings) was excused from the vote.

The prime sponsor of the bill, Sen. Al Novstrup (R-Aberdeen), said if any money is leftover from the $15 million over a three-year pilot program, it will revert into the general fund. Other proponents said it would be up to the Legislature in three years to codify the scholarship fund for years to come after the pilot period is over.

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