Other Views; Budget woes, earmark reformSolutions getting tougher as state’s budget hole remains On Dec. 7, Gov. Mike Rounds will make his recommendations for the 2012 state budget to the Legislature. Those recommendations will provide a starting point for the 2011 session of the South Dakota Legislature, which is staring at a budget shortfall of at least $39 million. When that shortfall is dealt with — and it will be because state law requires a balanced budget — lawmakers already know there is another $37 million projected deficit for the next (2013) budget.
Solutions getting tougher as state’s budget hole remains
On Dec. 7, Gov. Mike Rounds will make his recommendations for the 2012 state budget to the Legislature. Those recommendations will provide a starting point for the 2011 session of the South Dakota Legislature, which is staring at a budget shortfall of at least $39 million. When that shortfall is dealt with — and it will be because state law requires a balanced budget — lawmakers already know there is another $37 million projected deficit for the next (2013) budget.
... Unless the federal government comes up with a new round of financial assistance for state governments, the solutions to balance the budget will be harder than they have been in the past. Jason Dilges, the governor’s budget director, told legislators recently the federal dollars have helped the state buy some time and delayed the worst of the decisions that need to be made until fiscal year ’13.
Lawmakers know the day is coming. All of us are praying for an economic rebound. Without that, our state will need to make some hard choices. Rep. Larry Tidemann, R-Brookings, said it best: “What we’ve done is delay the inevitable. Our hope is the economy is going to grow.”
So there we have it. We have options for the 2011 session and for balancing the budget for fiscal year 2012. But then what? What about FY 2013 and beyond, especially if there is no economic rebound and the economy remains as it is? What happens if state revenues continue to fail to meet the state’s needs?
Thus, the key question for the legislators heading to Pierre in January is: will 2012 budget discussions be a one-year, short-term effort, or will they look out and begin tackling the 2013 and beyond issues? With the wild card in all these scenarios being an improved economy, from our vantage point, we would just as soon see a multi-year solution/budget created that is not based solely on a hoped-for economic recovery, but cuts government size and spending, too. Contigency planning for worst case scenarios is an effective option for state government. If good news comes, we end up with surpluses. But postponing tough decisions, which seems to be standard operating procedure for many elected officials, is the wrong answer for our state at this time.
Watertown Public Opinion
Earmark reform needed, but not earmark moratorium
There’s a good reason why the term earmark has become a dirty word for many people and Republican U.S. senators are aggressively pushing for a two-year moratorium on the long-standing practice.
For far too many decades, congressional representatives have abused the ability to attach funding for an array of dubious pet projects to unrelated spending bills.
So, we enthusiastically applaud the attempts for true, serious reform.
But we also strongly urge U.S. Sens. John Thune and Tim Johnson to avoid yielding to political posturing as the debate about earmarks heightens.
That’s for good reason.
South Dakota has much to lose under a blanket moratorium. Let’s start with two earmarks of extreme importance to our state: funding for the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System and safety programs on Native American reservations in South Dakota.
You’d be hard-pressed to call either of these earmarks dubious, yet they could be jeopardized if the push by Republican senators succeeds.
Granted, Senate Democrats also would need to agree to the moratorium in order for it to be effective. But with President Obama also leaning toward a possible moratorium, a deal isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
What’s really needed, though, is basic, old-fashioned responsibility in Congress instead of political posturing that could harm states such as South Dakota. ...
Sioux Falls Argus Leader