Legislators weigh-in on Governor's proposed budget - KOTA Territory News

Legislators weigh-in on Governor's proposed budget

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Governor Dennis Daugaard's budget address covered many topics including ways to plan ahead for Fiscal Year 2014 and ways to amend the current budget of Fiscal Year 2013.

And with more than 100 legislators there are many different opinions about the Governor's proposed budget.

"This is a budget that is positive; it's moving forward, it's actually a budget where we get to add money instead of take money away and that's positive for South Dakota," said Representative Jenna Haggar.

"I feel like we went to a football game and they forgot to bring the football. We didn't talk about the real issues facing South Dakota which is how do we restore funding for school," said Representative Bernie Hunhoff, Minority Leader.

Governor Dennis Daugaard's proposed budget calls for modest increases to account for inflation in state aid to schools, health care, and salaries for state workers.

"I think his point is we are going to be back to business as usual. I think we are going to fund the formula as it was intended to be funded," said Senator Craig Tieszen.

The budget includes a 3% increase in funding to education; a proposal some legislators are happy with.

"I'm extremely optimistic and excited about that because education is the key to the success of South Dakota," said Senator Kirkeby.

But others say more needs to be done.

"The school's are in a real crisis, our schools are operating on a 2004–2005 budget and we are way behind other states," said Representative Hunhoff.

Governor Daugaard also proposed a 3% increase in funding to medical services for the poor.

But he does not recommend that South Dakota expand its Medicaid program during the upcoming fiscal year; a move the Governor says could cost the state upwards of 43 million dollars by 2020.

"It's just too risky right now. We're living within our means we still have some trying times to get through. I'm extremely confident that we will always care for those in need but I don't think we need to open the door for any more at this time," said Senator Kirkeby.

But those opposed to the Governor's recommendation say the state should take advantage of the Federal Government's willingness to front 100 percent of the cost for Medicaid expansion for the next three years as a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

"I think we have a real challenge on our hands to do this. Democrats will push the issue, we'll try to bring the debate to the legislature to try to pass a law to implement that, I promise you," said Representative Hunhoff.

While South Dakota will likely have another balanced budget under its belt; legislators acknowledge this is just the beginning.

"At the end of the day that's his proposal and legislature gets to work on it from here," said Senator Tieszen.

Governor Daugaard says he is leaving about $26 million uncommitted. He and the legislature will negotiate how to spend that extra money.

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