Week 2 of the Legislative Session

On January 22, 2011, in Letters from Val, by Valentine Rausch

Hello again from Pierre.

Well this week was very anticipated and then extremely sobering. Tuesday Governor Daugaard presented his budget address to the Legislature and the State, it was both very well delivered and informational, to levels we usually do not receive. I thought he did a very good job in illustrating the challenges we have before us. Now the tough job comes in deciding if he is totally correct or if other options can get to the same end, a balanced budget.

The Governor laid out a plan that would require a 10% cut to almost all corners of the State’s general funded budgets. He proposed a 10% cut to the Education system, the providers reimbursements, the Judiciary, the Governor’s office will offer up more than 10%, all constitutional offices, the Legislature, etc., all of the budget! He said the only way to do it right is for all of us to share in the pain and work through this tough time together.

With Education making up 47% of the budget, taking care of people using 37%, protecting people making up 12% and all the rest of state government being only 4% of the budget it will be impossible to balance, if the revenue can not be increased, without cutting some from all these areas, 10% as proposed from the Governor.

Raising taxes seems like an easy way to take care of the revenue problem, however, the Governor has said no new taxes. The election just 2 months ago seemed also to support cutting rather than raising taxes and just this week I heard the Minority Leader saying the Democrats are not for raising taxes either and with a 2/3 majority vote needed to pass any tax increase our options are limited.

We will continue to look for ways to support the schools and the providers, but it will be very difficult, at best, to prevent cuts from happening. We will also look to ease restrictions and barriers that would allow the schools more flexibility in using the funds they have in reserves. It will be very challenging to find any relief from pain.

The amount of bills, this year, has been very low, but the amount of activity at the end of the week was brisk, so I think the bill load will climb quickly as the this week unfolds.

The visitors continue to come and see the capital and invite us to their functions. This week we had the Tourism Banquet, which was well attended. We also had Specialty Hospitals, ALEC, Brookings Day, Beer Wholesalers, and many smaller groups that also have smaller receptions. Always good to see the faces from back home.

Again my contact info is rep.rausch@state.sd.us or valrausch@hotmail.com. Or call and leave a message at 605-880-5015.

Sincerely, Speaker Val Rausch


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