OPINION: State should not spend more than it gets in revenueThe main run of the 2012 South Dakota legislative session is over. The final day is “veto day” on March 19, when we will consider bills that the governor has vetoed since we adjourned on Friday. Although some proposals attract more publicity than others, we considered nearly 500 bills and resolutions. Probably education and budget concerns were the top two issues.
By: Mike Vehle, Guest columnist
The main run of the 2012 South Dakota legislative session is over. The final day is “veto day” on March 19, when we will consider bills that the governor has vetoed since we adjourned on Friday. Although some proposals attract more publicity than others, we considered nearly 500 bills and resolutions. Probably education and budget concerns were the top two issues.
A good friend asked why we made some cuts last year and then this year restored part of those funds. I said, “Remember an earlier conversation when you told me that you just did your income tax and hoped you don’t ever have another year like last year?” I then asked, “Did you burn all your savings last year or did you cut back on your spending?” With a big smile the friend, who happens to belong to the opposite political party of me, said, “OK, that puts it in perspective.” We must remember that the state cannot and should not spend any more than it receives in revenues — taxes.
We must be cautious, as although the numbers show that we are recovering, there are two possible problems looming on the horizon. The first is that the economy still has not totally recovered and there is still great uncertainty in many sectors. Agricultural commodity prices have been fantastic, especially when the rest of the economy has been in the doldrums. This has been great for South Dakota’s No. 1 industry and the state as a whole. We hope that the economy continues to improve and that commodity prices maintain their value, but that is not a given.
The second issue is probably more certain, and that is the federal government must make some budget cuts.
Unless the feds act to handle the situation differently, South Dakota is looking at a possible approximate loss of $45 million to $50 million in federal funds next year. We will then have to determine if these are programs we want to just terminate, or either partially or wholly fund.
That is why this year you will read about one-time increases versus putting the funding in the “base” to be added onto in future years. We’re not certain enough about next year that we want to place more of the funding in the base and at this point would rather make some of it in one-time funding increases.
Last week I discussed part of HB 1234, the education bill. I again want to thank all those who sent in positive suggestions, as many of the suggestions that came to me and other legislators were worked into the bill.
Please remember that it is still in progress as there are six different committees involving 93 different people to oversee the implementation.
The committees are made up of superintendents, principals, teachers, school board members, businesspeople, legislators, education and administrators association representatives, etc. Therefore the ability to make suggestions continues.
We receive hundreds of e-mails — sometimes daily. I read my e-mails and try to answer all those from District 20; however, if I missed one, I apologize.
It is an honor and privilege to serve District 20 in the Legislature and I truly enjoy serving and thank you for giving me that opportunity. After veto day, I will write a summary of some of the legislation that became law.
Mike Vehle is a Republican from Mitchell who represents Davison and Aurora counties in the state Senate.