South Dakota lawmakers 'wait and see' how Fiscal Cliff plays out - KOTA Territory News

South Dakota lawmakers 'wait and see' how Fiscal Cliff plays out


During yesterday's budget address, Governor Dennis Daugaard recommended that 26 million dollars of the state budget remain 'uncommitted' to any certain fund.

He says the move is to wait out the Federal Government's action on the so - called Fiscal Cliff-new year spending cuts and tax hikes.

Many law makers say the wait and see approach is a good move by the governor.

"The governor's somewhat working in the dark with this budget. He doesn't know what's going to happen with the fiscal cliff, he doesn't know what's going to happen with Medicaid Expansion, he doesn't know what's going to happen with the world and national economy," said Representative David Lust, Majority Leader.

With all the uncertainty, Governor Daugaard says he is leaving about $26 million uncommitted to any specific fund. Money that could help South Dakota ‘weather the storm' if the nation goes over the Fiscal Cliff come January.

"We have to worry about this. We have to be conservative," said Governor Dennis Daugaard.

And during the next legislative session he and the lawmakers will negotiate if and when to spend that extra money.

"We will know some of those things in the next few months certainly on the fiscal cliff side. So that will help legislators make a more informed budget then the governor was able to do," said Representative Lust.

The governor says if no action is taken South Dakota could lose close to 29 million dollars in Federal funding.

"We should be prepared for cuts that ultimately must come unless taxes are raised dramatically. The federal government cannot sustain current deficit spending and action must be taken very soon," said Governor Daugaard.

Legislators agree- we can't spend more than we make; and as a nation we are in a serious crisis.

"We don't need that crystal ball. We are all totally aware that Congress is the most ineffective lame entity in the history of government. They are falling off the cliff and they're going to take a lot of states with them. And we're not going to join them in South Dakota," said Senator Mark Kirkeby, (R) District 35.

"They will make the decisions that affect our state whether we like it or not. So we need to be as prepared as possible to combat some of the aggressive cuts they'll be doing," said Representative Jenna Haggar, (I) from District 10.

Right now being prepared means to 'wait and see' what changes Congress makes and the Governor says those changes are inevitable.

"Congress inaction will create change," said Governor Daugaard.

Despite the apparent lack of progress in getting a deal on the fiscal cliff, President Obama says he remains optimistic that something can be worked out.

But as the uncertainty continues, U.S. Senator John Thune says Governor Daugaard's approach is a good one.

"I think they are doing the right thing to assume at least at this point that they are going to be moving forward without a solution from Congress. I just hope in the end they are wrong and that we can get this wrong and get this fixed," said U.S. Senator John Thune.

Meanwhile, House members have been told that their Christmas holiday might be canceled if there is no agreement.


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