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SD dedicating more money to state buildings upkeep

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- South Dakota is increasing funding for maintenance of state buildings, but not all legislators agree with the move.

Lawmakers dedicated $4.7 million toward state building maintenance this year, a big increase from annual budgets that used to be about $1 million or $2 million. The additional money is welcome because of a nearly $50 million repair and maintenance backlog, Bureau of Administration Commissioner Paul Kinsman told the Argus Leader newspaper.

"It's always been kind of a struggle to get those dollars for maintenance and repair," said Kinsman, who oversees the maintenance of state buildings. "As a general rule, I think it's been underfunded."

The industry standard is to spend 2 percent of the total value of all buildings on maintenance and repair. South Dakota typically has spent less than half that, Kinsman said.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard has pushed to increase maintenance and repair spending to the 2 percent figure -- about $11.5 million annually -- and the Legislature has committed to gradually reaching that figure.

"As I come up to that 2 percent, I'm actually going to be able to start reducing the backlog I have," Kinsman said.

Some lawmakers say there are higher priorities for any extra money the state has.

"I do value maintenance and repair, and I do think it's important," said Sen. Billie Sutton, D-Burke, a member of the Appropriations Committee. "But we need to fund education and health care. Not to sound too clichéd, we're not taking care of our 'maintenance and repair' with education and health care."