Gov. Noem pitches budget recommendations to Legislature
PIERRE S.D.- South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem pitched her $4.8 billion budget to both houses of the legislature on Wednesday afternoon.
Noem’s proposed budget has funds going toward expanding rural broadband, fighting meth, and developing the state’s young workforce. She said her main priority is to balance the budget, and do it without raising taxes.
The budget is for the fiscal year beginning on July 1.
First, she proposes spending $5 million on bringing broadband to the state’s rural communities through public-private partnerships. She said 5-G capabilities will bring jobs and educational opportunities to the state’s rural towns.
“We need faster connections to enhance the way our rural communities participate in the next generation for South Dakota’s economy,” said Noem.
Noem also proposed a $1.8 million state matching grant to Ellsworth Air Force Base. With the nuclear-capable B-21 Bomber program on the horizon, she believes investing in the base is critical to the Black Hills.
Furthermore, she acknowledged sales tax collections are on the rise following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to require out-of–state retailers to pay sales tax. Like her predecessor, former Gov. Dennis Daugaard, she added it is too early to see how much the state will bring in.
“It would not be smart for us to spend or to budget for money due to this new law because we don’t know if new revenues will be coming in the door,” said Noem.
Making good on one of her campaign promises, Noem wants to spend $1.4 million for a state-run media campaign against the state’s meth epidemic. She also included $2.1 million dollars for meth addiction programs. According to Noem, the additional funding would “extend the opportunities for those to live in a sober environment” and allow patients to “learn the skills necessary to continue to live a life of sobriety.”
The state’s lagging agriculture economy could be jumpstarted by the budget. Noem plans to on focusing on conservation, expanding markets, and expanding employment opportunities for young people. State Technical Schools will also see a 2.5 percent funding increase during the next fiscal year.
And Noem also talked about tackling a new issue – finding funding for nursing homes across shutting their doors. She proposed a $ 6 million payment to the homes, and for primary and prenatal care.
“I’ve directed my Department of Health to review the rules governing assisted living facilities and remove any restrictions.”
According to Representative Tim Goodwin, Noem continues Governor Dennis Daugaard’s fiscal legacy.
“We’re just trying to build on where he left off, re-prioritizing getting things changes new environment, getting broadband, just things to update and grow the state,” he said.
But Democratic leadership says the budget was a compromise, including several areas they agree on. But to fund some of the new programs Noem is proposing a $20 million cut to the Department of Social Services.
cg jamie smith democratic house minority leader
“We haven’t been able to dig into the numbers,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Jamie Smith. “[With] the Department of Social Services, what changes are we making and how is that going to effect South Dakotans?”
And as Noem wrapped up her speech, she stressed the need for fiscal conservatism.
“[The budget] doesn’t spend money we don’t have, it doesn’t grow government, and it doesn’t require us to raise taxes,” Noem said.
Governor Noem said these proposals will round out the state’s budget, ending the fiscal year in the black. The legislature will vote on the budget before the end of the session in March.