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Daugaard Proposal Increases Spending

December 6, 2011, 5:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Daugaard Proposal Increases Spending
PIERRE, SD - South Dakota school districts will see more money from the state in the next budget, and state employees will be getting a raise for the first time in three years.

Those are just a few of the details Governor Dennis Daugaard unveiled in his annual address to the legislature Tuesday.

The governor says the tough cuts made to state spending last year paved the way for the increases in his proposal.

South Dakota school districts, Medicaid providers and state employees all see an increase in this budget proposal.

“We now enjoy, because of those cuts, the opportunity to consider investments in key areas,” Daugaard said.

But it’s not just the cuts that made this budget proposal better. There is about $38 million in extra money coming into the state right now because tax revenues are up.

Daugaard is going to add that extra money into the next budget so that school districts, Medicaid providers and state employees all get a three percent increase.

On top of that, Daugaard is also proposing a five-percent bonus for state employees who have gone without a raise for three years, and more than $8 million for a teacher training program. 

“This will fund an intensive training in the summer for every teacher. So these dollars will go right to the teacher.  They won’t go through the school districts; they’ll go right to the teachers,” Daugaard said.

Democrats say the added money for schools is a drop in the bucket compared to where districts should be if the legislature followed the funding formula the last few years. 

“It’s ten percent down from where it ought to be. That money has to be made up somewhere. I don’t think anybody says we just want to cut the schools ten percent over four years,” House Minority Leader Rep. Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton said.

But Daugaard says his budget proposal will help avoid any more cuts in state government. 

“Here in South Dakota, we’re taking care of business. We balanced our budget last year and we will keep our budget balanced by being cautious and conservative.  As a result, this session does not need to be about more cuts,” Daugaard said.

Daugaard is also proposing to take $20 million out of reserves to pay for the flood this summer and the pine beetle fight in the Black Hills.

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