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SD Lawmakers Brace For Cuts To 'Real Programs'

January 17, 2011, 6:15 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

SD Lawmakers Brace For Cuts To 'Real Programs'
SIOUX FALLS, SD - South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard is preparing to give his budget address to state lawmakers Wednesday. With a $75 million deficit legislators are bracing for a presentation full of cuts to state programs.

Former Governor Rounds proposed a five percent cut to education before he left office, and lawmakers are expecting to see even deeper cuts when Daugaard steps to the podium this week.

Governor Daugaard doesn't want to raise taxes and he doesn't want to use reserves to balance the budget so that means some tough cuts are coming for state-funded programs.

"I think it's going to be really tough realizing that these are real people, these are real jobs, these are real programs affecting real, everyday people, especially with the economy we've seen in the last two years," Republican Senator Deb Peters of Hartford said.

Peters is on the appropriations committee which will make decisions on the governor's proposed cuts. And, with a mutli-million dollar deficit she believes a lot of programs will be on the chopping block.

"I think we've seen a preview a couple of years ago when Governor Rounds proposed some of the cuts before the stimulus dollars came in. I think we're going to see some of those cuts come back," Peters said.

Daugaard is already said he's taking a 15 percent pay cut and the salaries of his cabinet members will be slashed by 10 percent. Some lawmakers fear programs such as education and health care could see those same numbers.

"If there are true cuts to the bureaucracy I think there will be broad support on the Democratic side. If the cuts are actually just shifts in responsibility to local school districts and health care providers back home then I think we'll have a lot of things to talk about," Democratic House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton said.

But, when Governor Daugaard reveals his proposals Wednesday lawmakers know the programs affected won't go quietly. 

"I'm anticipating hearing from every level of government. I'm anticipating hearing from everybody," Peters said.

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