A Tradition of Responsible State Funding
by State Senator Casey Crabtree
MADISON–It’s December and the Holiday Season is in full swing. This time of year is one of my favorites because of time spent with family and celebrating Christmas traditions. The beginning of December also means your legislators are busy preparing for the upcoming session and reviewing the Governor’s proposed budget.
Each December, the Governor is constitutionally required to present the Legislature with a budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Throughout the Legislative Session, the appropriators–the budget setting committee members–and eventually the entire Legislature will craft and vote on a final budget. It’s a collaborative process amongst the House, Senate, state agencies and Gov. Noem. At the end of the day, it’s our duty as the Legislature to adopt a balanced and responsible state budget that takes care of our residents.
During the past few years, South Dakota has seen 10 to 15 percent growth in available dollars for state spending largely due to federal COVID relief dollars. Wise fiscal management allowed us to leverage one-time dollars for impactful projects without burdening the taxpayers in future years. Investments in infrastructure, freezing tuition at state universities and technical colleges, and increases to what we refer to in Pierre as the the big three–education, healthcare, and state employees–were key wins for South Dakota last session. We balanced all of this while also making the largest tax cut in South Dakota’s history.
Similar to the national economy, things appear to be slowing down in South Dakota. Thankfully sound fiscal management of South Dakota taxpayer dollars helps insulate us from national economic pressures and positions us well for the future. As I talk to folks on Main Street, meet with ag producers, study the data, and listen to economic experts it’s pretty clear that we are seeing the return of “normal” annual growth, which is around 5 percent. South Dakota’s government will be tightening its belt just like many South Dakota families are under the Biden economy. This also means there will be significantly fewer one-time dollars available for large projects, and that’s a good start to fight off inflation.
As a Legislature, we are going to focus on the state’s top priorities. A major priority of mine is another tuition freeze for post-secondary schools. Protecting the affordability of education, equipping the next generation with job skills and knowledge, and keeping kids in South Dakota is a critical investment for the longevity of South Dakota’s economy and quality of life. We’ll also look to increase teacher pay, healthcare and nursing home reimbursements to keep up with Biden’s inflation.
As we look to the future of our economy, I’m thankful for Gov. Noem’s funding proposal to establish the United States’ first PhD program in quantum computing. With this investment, Dakota State University will continue to be at the forefront of training the world’s best cybersecurity experts, while we also continue to strengthen one of our fastest growing industries.
One of our Legislature’s greatest (albeit legally required) traditions is passing a balanced budget, but on top of that, we will pass the budget that is best for the people of South Dakota. At the end of the day, I’m proud that in South Dakota we approach our budget in a thoughtful and responsible way. We sit down and look at priorities, eliminate unnecessary spending, and make thoughtful decisions just like a family sitting around the dinner table planning out a household budget. Legislators also keep top of mind that these dollars belong to the people of South Dakota and that every dollar invested is necessary to help this great state thrive.