Local lawmakers weigh in on budget possibilities - KOTA Territory News

Local lawmakers weigh in on budget possibilities

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Gov. Dennis Daugaard will present his budget to the public next Tuesday.

In the 24 hours before his presentation, he'll meet with leadership and the Legislature as a whole to go over the details.

Two years ago, South Dakota instituted deep budget cuts across the board. It was a tough decision, but one lawmakers say they had to make.
 
"We run a fiscally tight ship here in South Dakota," said Rep. Kristin Conzet a Republican from District 32.
 
Now state legislators say it's time to set sail again.
 
"We have, for all practical purposes, weathered the economic storm," Rep. Mark Kirkeby, R-District 35, told KOTA.
 
It'll be a slow process in the wake of the recession -- "It's not something that we can just do in one year," said Conzet -- but lawmakers say it's time to boost revenues and put money back into schools.
 
"It's just a no-brainer," Kirkeby said. "We do need jobs, and we certainly need to enhance our education."
 
That could prove difficult in a state where voters recently rejected a sales tax bump that would have funded schools.
 
"We're living within our means," explained District 34 Republican Sen. Craig Tieszen.
 
So to expand those means without new taxes, legislators want to see incentives to bring in new businesses, "which would generate jobs, which would generate revenue," Conzet said.
 
Revenue to keep kids learning, and keep everyone out of jail.
 
"I think none of us want to start appropriating money to build new prisons," Tieszen said.
 
Instead, he wants to fund a criminal justice initiative to focus on treatment and supervision, not time behind bars.
 
"I think in the end that will save money," said Tieszen, "but we'll have to make some investment in that up front first."
 
But as for what the governor will actually propose next week, Conzet thinks "we're going to see Gov. Daugaard stay right to his usual playbook. He is a fiscal conservative."
 
Some are also concerned the federal government will push more responsibilities to states.

And even though they support local control, it could make for tough decisions when it comes down to cutting programs.

Daugaard will present his budget to legislative leadership on Monday, to the entire caucus Tuesday morning, and to the public Tuesday at 1 p.m.

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