The State Budget, got it. What else needs to be done?

Like most years, the elephant in the room for this upcoming year?s legislative session, is going to be the budget (no pun intended) and it has been discussed in three different posts in the past week or so.  Lawmakers do much more out there than just hand out money.

What other issues should the lawmakers in Pierre tackle next year?

  • Blog control act
  • School laptop program (DOA?)
  • Abortion ban
  • Video Lottery ban
  • A Sioux Falls casino
  • Texting while driving
  • The official state stuffed animal
  • Surfing while driving
  • Fine tune the smoking ban
  • using a cell phone while driving
  • Tax credits for renewable energy construction

Of course we understand that many of items may be tied to budget because they need to be funded.

26 Replies to “The State Budget, got it. What else needs to be done?”

  1. MC Post author

    BTW, I hope you newly elected lawmakers and those that have been around awhile are paying attention. 🙂

  2. MacGregor

    Unnecessary things like the laptop program, state fair funding,and money for public broadcasting have to go. The state needs to take license money away from GF&P instead of giving them millions of tax dollars we don’t have. They also need to abolish tenure for teachers and allow the school districts to drop any programs the district feels it can’t afford. Cut the number of state employees and only fund projects that are necessary. This is not the time to raise taxes and the reserve funds need to be dipped into only as a last resort.

  3. springer

    I think an official state stuffed animal should be top of the list!! I nominate the teddy bear!

    Stay away from trying to legislate using cell phones while driving or texting while driving. People will continue to talk on the phones anyway, and you can’t legislate against stupidity regarding texting while driving. Don’t overburden the police anymore than they will already be by the smoking ban. And don’t fine tune that until it has been a year or so to see if it works the way the proponents say it will; I didn’t vote for it, but I don’t think this is the year to tacklet that issue already. Don’t bring up abortion; it is a waste of time as even if a ban is passed again, it will go to a referendum and be defeated. Don’t touch video lottery until the state is on a more secure footing economy wise.

    Getting rid of teacher tenure would be good but I think impossible. I know our district had many teachers that were there only for their coaching positions and teaching was secondary, and do you think those people would ever be let go anyway?? No. I would make districts evaluate each of their programs whether they are necessary; for instance, one reason given for needing to renovate our school is the need for a safer kiln for the pottery class! Dump laptop program and all its attendant costs.

    Focus on the budget. Start with talking with the lower level state employees. Let them anonymously suggest budget savings ideas. Especially focus on those employees who travel a lot for their state jobs and see if those jobs could not be done utilizing computer, internet etc. You would be surprised at the answers. Make it easier and cheaper to buy office supplies and airline tickets. In some cities focus on consolidating state employees in a central location instead of scattered across the city in many buildings with higher costs. Don’t ask the higher position people for their ideas; they are most times more interested in protecting their turf and importance and really aren’t looking to save money.

    Make this a truly remarkable legislative session using sensible and innovative ways to look for budget savings. They are there but most times not seen.

  4. caheidelberger

    fine tune the smoking ban? How? It’s already fine-tuned, with special exceptions for special interests. Stick a fork in it: the Legislature passed it, the people passed it by a huge margin, now let it be.

    And don’t even get me started on the blog control acts or more abortion nonsense. We have a budget to fix. Start work on that the first day of session, don’t touch anything else until we see a roadmap for solvency.

  5. Fred

    We go from year-to-year trying to figure out what to do with the state budget, but never in my watching of the legislature or the executive branch, does either take a long-term view of what are our the services that the state provides (education, prisons, highway construction, Medicaid). It seems to me that both branches of government should openly take this long-term view so that all would know what is coming down the pike. We have a structural deficit that will be offset somewhat by the federal dollars that the administratrion squirreled away. But, once that is gone, we still face $100M+ deficit.

    We have the need for a balanced budget. We also have a need to examine our revenue sources to see the extent to which they will continue to meet the expenditures of state government without any expansion of any state programs.

    This year-by-year game of how are we going to plug the gap, whose ox is going to be gored, and raiding of dedicated sources for other purposes has to be replaced by a more thoughtful look.

  6. Anonymous

    A recent study showed states that passed a texting/cell phone ban showed no decrease in accidents. The reasoning was they bury their phones in their laps instead of up on the wheel where they can at least see both.

    Springer- you are a broken record. Your ideas are not founded in fact and even if they were implemented would see little impact if any at all to the budget. The lower level employees you talk about are not managers and are not responsible for implementing the mission of the office. They have a job to do and they do it. You do exactly what Rounds is doing and telling every department to come up with 10% plus in cuts. Believe me the managers know the scope of their budget and most could care less about their turf.
    As far as travel is concerned, they are already using DDN, Go to Meeting, and phone conferencing as much as possible. Many times employee travel is because a warm body needs to meet with an individual, business, or organization.
    Office supplies and all other supplies and equipment are far cheaper on gov’t bid than going down to Wal-Mart.
    Travel is not offered to state gov’t any cheaper but it sure as heck isn’t more expensive.

    The reality here is the fat is cut, the belt is tight, it’s time to start cutting off fingers and toes and possibly an arm. Things like limiting the opportunity scholarship, cutting the school funding formula, eliminate school consolidation incentives, no state funding for state fair, downsize social programs for children, drug treatment for inmates, turning out non-violent offenders, eliminate food tax refund program, no COLA for retirees, eliminate retire-rehire to no name a few.
    Our spending isn’t what got us into trouble as much as the severe drop off in revenue. Our revenues have fallen back to 2007 levels which hasn’t happened since the great depression. In the mean time, our expenses from entitlements alone have skyrocketed. Last year we saw an increase of over 50 million dollars in Medicaid costs alone. Did you know that 50% of all children born in this state are covered under Medicaid? It’s easy to say cut the waste fraud and abuse, it’s not easy to say, no health care for a little baby.

  7. Anonymous

    And another thing..A large portion of the tobacco tax increase that was passed a few years ago went to property tax relief plus lottery revenue which has sustained property tax relief will go down. The people decided they would rather do without smoking and the revenue will no longer be there to support the same amount of property tax relief so those levies will have to rise resulting in an increase in property taxes. Property tax relief is very expensive to state government and the funding for such a program is wholly dependent on lottery and tobacco taxes.

  8. springer

    anon 10:21 — I might be a broken record on some things, but I also do know the facts on some things. There is unnecessary travel that could be done by sending a disc thru the mail vs travel expenses for a week at a time. And airline tickets ARE more expensive when purchased thru state mandated organizations than on line. And I talk to lower level state employees who DO know where a lot of waste is in the state budget.

  9. ymous

    This state needs to put Co-Parenting laws on the books. The gender bias in the courts regarding fathers needs to be leveled.

  10. mo joe

    We need to take all money for road repair, and docks for fishing and eliminate them, Horse and buggy days again, huck finn here we come.

  11. Anonymous

    MacGregor, 8am, I don’t think the GFP gets any taxpayer money. Their funds come from the licenses that they sell to the hunters and fishermen, and you want to take that away? They get some federal funds but the Feds get that money from the sale of licenses and taxes on the sale of ammo.

    I do agree that many spending items can be cut, such as some of those you named. But include in that list the money budgeted for the Cultural Center which as a couple of years ago amounted to about $2.5 million.

  12. Anonymous

    Waste and unnecessary travel are very subjective terms springer. If you or this employee has information that would save taxpayer dollars, there are plenty of ways to pass that along. Not to say it couldn’t be more efficient generally but you DON’T know individually department by department who that is and who that isn’t.
    Conceivably if you had time to check prices online at the right time using name your own price and being subjected to staying at a less than desirable geographic location than yes,,,it could be cheaper. A departments financial people handles the travel arrangements and I don’t want my other employees wasting time trying to save a few bucks fishing around on the internet all day. You act as though these people aren’t at all concerned with their travel budget. With the employee travel ban and essential travel having to be approved by the Gov’s office, you can bet your ass it’s a concern!

  13. Anonymous

    Cultural Center’s budget is mostly space billing. If you want to close the building and shove all the items and information into cold storage across the state, we can do that.

  14. MacGregor

    Anonymous@12:20,
    Take a look at last year?s budget. GF&P got 5 million of tax money last year, plus the taxpayers had to pay Vonk?s salary of upwards of $100,000. The money GF&P gets for selling hunting and fishing licenses to harvest public?s wildlife belongs to the public, does it not? Why shouldn?t the majority of that money also go into the general fund to pay for necessary programs and to help balance the budget?

  15. Anonymous

    springer-read 10:21 post because that is where we are at. As they say, if you want to go elephant hunting, you have to go where the elephants are. It’s either cut cut cut very popular expensive programs, take tax incentives and exemptions away, or raise taxes. I don’t mean to pick on you springer but I am sick of so many comments on here thinking there are millions in easy spending to cut. Could we save some money with your suggestions..maybe a little but you could basically eliminate the entire bureaucracy and still not balance this budget. I hope we can figure it out without raising taxes on anyone but I would be surprised.
    MacGregor, the 5 million includes salaries but the lions share is a federally mandated match to various programs and lease payments to the SDBA. Even sweeping license fees has applications as there have been attempts at sweeping those fees to cover match rates and bond redemption and we can’t even do that.
    For years we have been trying to scrub the budget and we are left with painful unpopular cuts.

    What has caused this mess is steep drop offs in revenue and massive increases in federal entitlements!!! Everything else is playing around the margins.

  16. Anonymous

    MacGregor, the governor’s budget for 2011 found at: http://www.state.sd.us/bfm/budget/rec11/SD_Gov_Rec_2011_Entire.pdf
    shows no taxpayer money listed in the revenues. The $5 million that you alluded to is perhaps pass thru money that is collected, deposited in the GF, and then passed thru to the GFP.

    I disagree that the license money that GFP collects is the publics’ or taxpayer’s money. It was paid by hunter’s and fishermen so the GFP can manage, and stock, wildlife so that there will always be those things to hunt/fish.

    Money paid in for gas taxes goes for maintaining and supervising our roads and bridges so we will have roads to drive on. It doesn’t go for other stuff and neither should the license fees.

  17. Les

    Anonymous 5:38″”Money paid in for gas taxes goes for maintaining and supervising our roads and bridges so we will have roads to drive on. It doesn?t go for other stuff and neither should the license fees.””

    You are not quite right on this. There is money taken for boat docks, snowmobile trails and some farm programs. This is taken with the assumption taxes were not claimed on those fuels possibly.

    I do not agree with this and feel that fuel tax should be accounted for at the retail level if levied into these other departments.

    However, you are right on with the GFP money collected, it belongs to the system that feeds it if continued feed is to be expected as in the misappropriation of the 2mil from the Aero fund last session. That was all money paid by pilots for a specific purpose, and that was not the underground lab.

  18. MacGregor

    RE: Anonymous on November 17, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

    Check out page 49 using the link you provided: http://www.state.sd.us/bfm/budget/rec11/SD_Gov_Rec_2011_Entire.pdf

    ?The FY2011 recommended budget for the Department of Game, Fish, and Parks totals $77,850,280, including $5,087,556 in general funds, $21,379,151 in federal fund expenditure authority, $51,383,573 in other fund expenditure authority, and 563.6 FTE. This budget reflects an overall decrease of $4,675,388. The Governor is recommending increases of $17,063 in general funds, $25,132 in federal fund expenditure authority, and $108,308 in other fund expenditure authority for health insurance.?

    That $5,087,556 in general funds is ALL tax money. None of it is license fees and every penny of it comes from South Dakota taxpayers. That total doesn?t include Vonk?s salary or his benefits, which are also paid with taxpayer money.

    South Dakota has a huge budget deficit to fill, meanwhile GF&P continues to spend money like a drunken liberal. $12.5 million for an outdoor living center in Rapid City last year, $8.1 million this year for a ranch in Fall River County, and now they want to spend $5.5 million to buy 300+ acres of the Blood Run land!

    With the deficit budget we?re looking at this year, how on earth can you justify this?