West River politicians give a preview of the upcoming legislative session for 2023

 

RAPID CITY, S.D.– With the new year right around the corner, the newest South Dakota Legislative session is also preparing to begin. South Dakota House District 34 Representative Mike Derby and District 32 Senator Helene Duhamel spoke about their thoughts about the upcoming year.

After tax cuts and budgets, what will be key issues for the legislature this session?

According to Senator Duhamel, the most important topics for her include: bringing more workforce housing to the Rapid City area, affordable and accessible child care, along with bringing more water to the West River area. Duhamel is a big proponent of the Missouri River Water Project and supports the plan to bring water from the east. Funding for moving the water will require hundreds of millions of dollars, she says. And can work if people come together on all levels.

“We need as much money as we can at the local, the state and the federal level to make this come to reality. We need all the cities and counties to come on board to give us their allocation for the future, to think long term about our needs. We’re a high arid desert. We have real needs for water. And everyone needs to awaken and mobilize right now to make this happen,” she said. “We have to know all the communities that want to come into this project, and then we engineer it towards that. There are needs that exist right now. Communities have to realize those needs. Think about their future needs. Come on to this project and help fund it too. There has to be some skin in the game at all levels.”

Representative Derby sees issues such as abortion being more pressing matters during the session.

“With the ruling of Roe v Wade here, this year, that will be a top issue. There’ll be a little bit of cannabis coming back, even though that was defeated at the last election. But primarily it is about money. Medicaid expansion, how we’re going to fund that, and the budget.

Will the grocery and property tax cuts happen?

For Senator Duhamel, she believes both passing is not likely, based on where the funds come from.

“Our Legislative Research Council tells us that almost all of our growth in [the] state budget has been from [the] federal stimulus. When that goes away and it’s going away, how much money will we be bringing in on sales taxes, etc.? We really have to think about this with a long-term lens, not the immediate lens.”

Representative Derby, who will be serving as the Chair of House Appropriations this year, is still looking into the subject.

“Part of the decisions we have to make are based on future revenues projections. And so those usually come at the end of [the] session. And we’re going to take a look at these. I’m not in a position to say that at this point in time because actually in the House we’re going to have our caucus look at all of these items and rank, order them and talk about what our priorities are.” However, Derby mentions that, if cut, the grocery sales tax cut would take away around $102,000,000. A property tax reduction could cost around $70,000,000 to $90,000,000.

How should state officials approach federal funds in the budget process?

As Senator Duhamel mentioned, once federal funding is gone, next will begin the process of looking at how to replace the funds. Representative Derby was in agreement, “I don’t believe we’re going to go through those years where we did the last couple with COVID covered dollars and the impact that those federal dollars had. A lot of those were one-time funds, infrastructure dollars, or one-time funds. So we can’t count on those in the future. And I don’t think we should count on those in the future.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News