Opinion: Other Views: South Dakota Editorial RoundupSouth Dakota should spend its funds wisely, prudently South Dakota state government is definitely over-spending. But we don’t have a budget crisis. At least not yet. A crisis means we can’t pay our bills and drastic action is necessary.
South Dakota should spend its funds wisely, prudently
South Dakota state government is definitely over-spending. But we don’t have a budget crisis.
At least not yet. A crisis means we can’t pay our bills and drastic action is necessary. Assuming things don’t turn worse, we have enough in various reserves and ongoing revenues to pay our bills for the coming 24 months.
But we don’t want a crisis. So we need to be careful and cautious. ...
Why do some argue we face a crisis already?
The state treasury isn’t expected to receive enough tax revenue to cover the approximately $1.16 billion of general-fund spending, authorized by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mike Rounds, for the 2011 state budget year that starts this July 1.
However, the forecasts are that the difference can be covered by the remaining $70.5 million of the federal economic-recovery aid received by South Dakota in 2009, and by more than $32 million of budget adjustments and actual cuts made by the Legislature last winter.
Before those changes made by the Legislature for 2011, the governor’s budget office had predicted a $107 million gap between revenue and spending for the 2012 state budget that starts July 1, 2011. That’s a shortfall of 9 to 10 percent. The state’s two reserve funds have approximately $107 million.
A shortfall of 9 to 10 percent doesn’t strike us as a crisis. It does carry a warning that shouldn’t be ignored. The Legislature and our next governor need to start digging deeper into state government.
The state universities and two special schools came up with $4.4 million of budget cuts this spring after the Legislature reduced their budgets for 2011. In addition to those cuts, the Board of Regents is dropping or consolidating universities’ low-enrollment programs that haven’t been deemed essential.
There’s no reason the rest of state government can’t follow the regents’ example and come up with a proportionate number, of approximately $40 million, in actual permanent cuts.
We know state tax revenues will eventually bounce back as our economy recovers. We also know the governor and the Legislature have been raiding various accounts to come up with as many dollars of cash as possible during the economic downturn.
Finding at least $40 million of permanent reductions is the prudent thing to do.
Aberdeen American News
New approach means better odds for S.D. Indian children
For quite a few years now, schools across South Dakota have sought ways to address the lower average test scores of Native American students.
The Sioux Falls district has the right idea with its plan to develop an elementary-level program emphasizing Native American culture.
Schools in our city certainly haven’t been ignoring the issue. In middle school and high school, Indian students have a chance to learn more about their heritage through Native American Connections classes.
Studies show, however, that differences in test scores show up as early as third grade to fifth grade in reading and in math.
It makes sense that helping students find a connection with their heritage at an earlier age might help them become more interested in reading and math and give them more of an incentive to try harder at their studies.
But there’s more than mere logic to back up that reasoning: A similar project in Montana has seen improved results among Native American students.
Another part of the plan is to help fifth-graders transition to the stand-alone Native American Connections classes available in sixth grade.
The whole approach seems promising. Not only is there evidence that Native American students will be more engaged and therefore get better results, but all students will have the chance to learn more about Native American traditions and history. That is, after all, the history of our state.
Sioux Falls Argus Leader