2021 S.D. Legislature: State government is like ‘kid in candy shop’ with current spending ways

By: 
Steve Haugaard, Speaker of the House

We finished our first week of the 2022 Legislative Session after hearing from the Governor on Tuesday, Chief Justice Steven Jensen on Wednesday, and on Thursday, the State of the Tribes Address given by Tribal Chairman Delbert Hopkins Jr. of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.  

The Governor’s comments in December about funding for childcare providers, not parents, were apparently fast-tracked into a new state-supported daycare ‘stabilization’ program as applications were offered in December and we were simply informed that $61,000,000 ($61 MILLION) will be sent out beginning in the next couple of weeks and continuing thereafter based upon the number of children in the daycare. THEN, we were also informed that an additional $30,000,000 will be made available for grants to anyone wanting to start a new daycare facility.  

There was no discussion with the Legislature as to whether we should begin such a childcare funding program, how much money should be poured into the program if we did start one, who should qualify for the program, or anything else about priorities or other possible uses for $91,000,000.

THEN, on Thursday, the Bureau of Finance and Management made their presentation to the Joint Committee on Appropriations asking for their usual budget of approximately $11,500,000. However, with the blessing of the Governor, they did one better and went on to ask for an additional $100,000,000 of federal spending authority. Their explanation was that there would likely be projects or needs that will come up outside of the regular Session that could be funded with these federal dollars and they simply want the ‘spending authority’ to fund these ‘unknown’ projects. They did say that they would tell us about how the money was spent … AFTER the fact.   There would be NO requirement for public input, NO proposed legislation, NO Legislative Committee hearings, NO legislative vote, NO required involvement or oversight by the Legislature or anyone else outside of the Governor’s office!

In a typical year, the Legislature is very careful with the expenditure of YOUR TAX DOLLARS. We will oftentimes argue over the best use of TENS OF THOUSANDS of dollars and certainly there will be extensive debate over the use of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars. Somehow, the availability of BILLIONS of dollars has caused YOUR GOVERNMENT to become the proverbial “kid in the candy shop”. There is precious little restraint being exhibited with our children’s and grandchildren’s ‘financial future’, IF they have one.

Last week, I mentioned that there is much work to be done to rein-in government growth, government spending, and the influence of special interest groups who are feeding upon these extraordinary federal dollars and state provided services; and that has proven to be true.

There is a saying that goes like this: “May you live in interesting times.” It is said to be the English translation of a ‘Chinese curse’, which is to wish the person to live during times of ‘uncertainty and disorder as opposed to peace and tranquility’. It seems like that is where we are, at least with our economy and politics.  

This week we continue with the regular session of the Legislature and with the ongoing issue of impeachment.  The public has the opportunity to be involved in providing testimony at the regular Committee hearings. So, I invite you to review the committee calendars and agendas to see which issues are of special interest to you.

Please go to www.sdlegislature.gov to listen in on the meetings or to find out when and where you can be involved.

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