PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The governor has signed into law the three major budget acts approved by the South Dakota Legislature.
Governor Kristi Noem had earlier raised doubts that she would approve the main budget bill, SB-210. In the announcement Monday that she had given her blessing to the new spending plan that takes effect July 1, she continued to question some of the lawmakers’ decisions.
Noem noted in a letter to legislators that the Joint Committee on Appropriations forecast more revenue than her finance office had estimated.
Lawmakers used the additional $87 million to provide 100% reimbursement to Medicaid providers as well as freezing tuition at South Dakota’s public universities and technical colleges and setting $11.4 million aside for future Medicaid expansion costs.
“I agree that our economy is strong, and I am responsible for ensuring that additional spending in our state’s budget is sustainable into the future. I’ve put significantly more funding into our reserves in recent years. Only time will tell if it was a wise decision to spend these additional dollars,” Noem wrote.
She also noted that the Legislature didn’t follow the recent pattern of providing equal percentage increases to K-12 schools, Medicaid providers and state government employees.
“While I understand the motivation behind this change, this sets a bad precedent and risks one or more groups being left behind in future years. I hope that the legislature will return to this longstanding tradition next year,” Noem wrote.
In a March 10 column, the governor stated, “This year, some elected leaders in Pierre made different decisions. They chose to spend more of the people’s money than I recommended, including on new programs. And they decided to deliver a temporary tax holiday to the people, rather than a permanent tax cut. I still believe that the best budget option for our state’s future is the one that I presented in December, including the elimination of the sales tax on groceries. And in the coming weeks, I will have to decide whether the budget that has been presented to me is worthy of my signature.”
Noem had recommended 5% increases for health care providers, state aid to K-12 public schools and state government employees. The Legislature followed her recommendation on health care but gave 7% increases to K-12 and state workers.
The governor has also signed into law HB-1049, a supplemental bill that changes some of the current financial-year’s budget, and SB-24 that establishes funding for K-12 public schools and sets the statewide property-tax levies for their local support.
She also signed into law SB-16 that provides $6.25 million of state funding as a match for a federal grant being sought for the railroad line between Sisseton and Milbank.
In a second announcement later Monday afternoon, her office said that Noem had signed into law 10 criminal-justice bills including HB-1016 that provides $60 million for a new women’s prison in the Rapid City area and HB-1017 that provides $52 million to purchase land and pay for design of a new men’s prison in the Sioux Falls area.
Among other bills she signed were SB-146 that will require violent offenders serve all or most of their prison sentences and SB-4 that allows judges to assign juvenile offenders to the state Department of Corrections after three distinct criminal episodes within a 12-month period.