Legislature places balanced-budget constitutional amendment on ballotPIERRE — State senators gave the final nod Tuesday to putting a constitutional amendment on South Dakota’s November election ballot asking voters to require a balanced budget for state government.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — State senators gave the final nod Tuesday to putting a constitutional amendment on South Dakota’s November election ballot asking voters to require a balanced budget for state government.
Altogether, the Legislature this session submitted four constitutional amendments for statewide votes this fall while rejecting six others.
Nine of the 10 proposals came from lawmakers. The balanced-budget amendment was requested by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Senate Republican leader Russ Olson, of Wentworth, said a financial rating agency last year wasn’t satisfied that the South Dakota Constitution requires a balanced budget.
Olson said he and many others have long believed that it does, but he acknowledged there’s no clear and explicit statement.
“We have a long tradition in South Dakota of a balanced budget,” Olson said. “It cements our hard-working South Dakota values into the constitution.”
Sen. Stan Adelstein disagreed that the amendment is necessary. He said the constitution’s article 13 prohibits a default by state government, and article 11 requires a special tax to be levied if state government falls behind financially.
“Right now, we have a tighter situation than the amendment would provide for,” Adelstein, R-Rapid City, said.
The Senate voted 30-2 to advance the balanced-budget language to the ballot. The House previously supported it 66-3.
The three other proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot would:
• Eliminate the century-old requirement that legislators receive five cents per mile for their first trip to the Capitol and their final trip home from session;
• Modernizing language dealing with corporations; and
• Changing the $12 million annual payout from the state cement trust fund to 4 percent of the fund’s value based on a four-year average.
All three of those were defeated in past elections.
The ballot also will have a referendum of a 2011 law that would create a grant program under the governor’s control to reward large development projects; and an initiated measure that would increase the state sales tax on most items to 5 percent from the current 4 percent, with the proceeds dedicated to K-12 education and health care.