Governor Dennis Daugaard will be making his next to last budget address this morning without a lot of hints other than telling the associated press that money is tight:
Daugaard said that officials will have to “tighten our belt” for the current budget year and be “very judicious” with the money available for 2019. Daugaard said that he will not be recommending cuts, but rather reducing the projected growth of some state expenses.
What’s the budget proposal going to contain? Governor Daugaard had made the point a few days ago to talk about how medical services are taxed… which seems a somewhat unexpected and ominous point to make in the run up to the budget:
Medical services aren’t subject to sales tax in South Dakota.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard plans to talk about that situation and a variety of others Tuesday, when he delivers the annual budget speech to the Legislature.
“It’s one of the points we’re going to make on weakened sales tax,” Liza Clark, the governor’s commissioner of budget and finance, said Thursday.
Most details won’t be revealed until the governor begins remarks shortly after noon.
It very well may simply be a point the Governor wants to make, and making a point is fine… as long as it’s just a point, and not part of a proposal to remove the exemption. Taxing cancer treatments, insulin, etcetera, is not something that’s going to sit well with the South Dakota electorate.
Along with the Governor’s announcement of the budget being tight, I’m anticipating that we’re going to have the inevitable announcement that there will be no raises for state employees as they’re usually the first on the chopping lock when money gets tight.
Why is this important to point out? Because there have already been announcements of efforts to put a measure on the ballot to raise legislator salaries. And at that time, I noted that while the legislative salary proposal is needed, it is not going to pass without difficulty:
Do I think the measure is going to ultimately succeed? I’m a bit doubtful. There are more working parts in getting something like this passed than just coming up with it, and the people proposing it are well aware of it, but you have to start somewhere.
First, is money. It’s going to be expensive to propose a bump in legislative salaries. And I believe both revenue may be down from projections, and what the federal government sends to South Dakota in several areas may be in a state of flux. That might be an impossible hurdle to get past among legislators to have the measure move forward in 2018.
Secondly, and more of an abstract concept, I think we’re in a time of hostility between the public and ‘the legislature’ as a broad concept, similar to how people feel about ‘Congress.’ They like and will vote to return their federal representatives, just as they like and will vote to return their state legislators.. but they just have a negative impression of the institution. I think politically, that could make it a tough sell with the voters.
If the State of South Dakota, one of the largest employers in the state, doesn’t have enough money to give it’s own employees a raise, what would you say the optics are going to look like when they put it on the ballot to ask voters for a raise for themselves?
It’s a lot easier to ask your boss for a raise when times are good than when things are tight.
Stay tuned for more on the budget address as the proposal is rolled out.