Being Good Stewards Of Taxpayer Dollars
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
Throughout my time serving as governor, good stewardship of taxpayer dollars has been my goal. Two pieces of recent news can assure South Dakotans that state government is handling their money responsibly.
On June 30, we closed the fiscal year with a budget surplus. Our ongoing revenues came in higher than projected and our expenses came in lower than budgeted. Revenue growth for the completed 2015 fiscal year exceeded estimates adopted by the Legislature last March by $10 million, or 0.71 percent; and state agencies demonstrated fiscal restraint, spending $11.5 million less than appropriated, or 0.84 percent.
Each year when we make budget projections, we try to make estimates that are as accurate as possible. There’s no way to project the exact numbers, so it’s better to err on the side of a surplus not a deficit. Through the Bureau of Finance and Management’s diligence, we were pretty close this year. Our projections were 99 percent accurate.
The good news of the surplus follows on the heels of a recently released report from the Mercatus Center in which South Dakota was ranked third in the nation for fiscal condition. The study is based on the comprehensive annual financial reports from each state for fiscal year 2013. The study compares states by their abilities to pay short-term bills, meet long-term spending obligations and increase spending. The study also takes budget and trust fund solvency into account.
In the study, we ranked just behind Alaska and North Dakota – and that’s something to be proud of. While Alaska and North Dakota derive a large percentage of their revenues from oil severance taxes, we must rely on other revenues more closely tied to economic activity.
When I took office, balancing the budget was my number one priority. Now, for four years in a row, we have maintained structural balance in our budget and we’ve done so without using one-time revenues or rainy day funds.
In a time when many other states are adopting rosy projections and employing budget gimmicks to justify overspending, South Dakota is acting responsibly. We don’t spend money we don’t have, we keep our budget structurally balanced and we seize opportunities to spend in the short-term where it can lead to savings. These practices reflect the responsible values of South Dakota citizens.