OUR VIEW: Daugaard has state on right fiscal pathGov. Dennis Daugaard is right to resume giving raises to state employees. During the state’s annual budget address Tuesday, Daugaard said it’s time for state employees to get 3 percent raises, as well as a 5 percent one-time bonus to help make up for no salary increases in the past three years.
By: Editorial board, The Daily Republic
Gov. Dennis Daugaard is right to resume giving raises to state employees. During the state’s annual budget address Tuesday, Daugaard said it’s time for state employees to get 3 percent raises, as well as a 5 percent one-time bonus to help make up for no salary increases in the past three years.
Daugaard, who took office in January, has been aggressive in his first year, cutting costs, budgets and salaries — including his own. He famously decreased his own pay by $15,000 last year to show he is serious about fixing South Dakota’s economic troubles.
He also made huge, wholesale cuts to the state budget earlier this year to help fix a $127 million deficit. Originally, he proposed 10 percent across-the-board cuts; most were kept, some were tempered, but generally his work helped the state through a trying time.
Now, he has come back with a plan for modest spending increases within his proposed $4 billion budget.
He is calling for one-time spending increases in general funds. He wants to spend more on K-12 education, at a rate of about 1 percent more in state aid than schools were getting before controversial cuts were instituted last year. He is calling for a slight increase in spending for Medicaid.
Daugaard is still being thrifty — he told lawmakers he doesn’t want to “spend every dime we get” — but his plan to modestly increase funding to many areas stems from better-than-expected revenue coming to the state.
The governor last year spoke of “resetting” the state budget. It created equal amounts of belt-tightening and hard feelings, but we’re a better state this year because of it.
Even the Associated School Boards of South Dakota issued a statement this week saying Daugaard’s proposed budget is “positive, given the state’s limited resources.” Daugaard’s cuts last year didn’t exactly put him in a positive light in the eyes of most school officials.
Good for Daugaard, and good for the state. And also, good for state employees, who do deserve a raise after these years of zero increases in their annual paychecks.
We agreed that state employees should not receive raises as state revenues dropped drastically and created South Dakota’s economic troubles. That’s how it works in the private sector, too.
But today, we feel state employees deserve this proposed salary increase, and the mere fact that Daugaard is proposing it gives us hope that better days are ahead for South Dakota.