South Dakota Lawmakers Wrangle About Priorities in Budget – Increase Their Own Budget
PIERRE – The South Dakota Legislature’s budget-writing committee has recommended a $4.1 billion state budget after wrangling over whether to give more money to schools and medical facilities that treat low-income people.
The Appropriations Committee rejected most of the 59 proposals to spend more money. The House and Senate planned to vote on the spending plan later Friday night.
The panel made few changes in Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s recommended budget that gives roughly 3 percent ongoing increases to schools, universities, and hospitals and other facilities in the Medicaid program.
However, the Legislature is giving extra money on a one-time basis to school districts and Medicaid facilities.
The committee rejected a request by Rep. Susan Wismer of Britton to add $5.8 million to give schools an extra 1 percent in ongoing state aid.
Lawmakers have increased their own budget to provide extra money for travel, staff and other expenses.
As part of the state budget passed Friday, the lawmakers added $500,000 to the Legislature’s existing $4.8 million annual budget. The extra money will be used to pay for legislators’ travel to conferences and seminars and possibly for hiring some additional staff.
The extra money also will cover increasing the lawmakers’ current expense allowance of $110 a day to $123 a day. They get that allowance during the annual legislative session.
Supporters argue that extra spending on travel and staff will help lawmakers get more information about key issues. Opponents say the Legislature should not boost its own budget when schools and other priorities have a greater need for the money.
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