Northern Plains News Service
Though South Dakota state government prides itself on never running a deficit, one policy group says the state does a poor job in budgeting for the future. The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities released a report Tuesday that placed South Dakota last in factoring in long-term issues impacting state budgeting decisions. The group examined what it said were 10 "common sense" budgeting tools. Some of the metrics include regularly estimating revenues and spending for the five years ahead, and tracking the cost of tax breaks.
With this past weekend's death of actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman's death due to a drug overdose, a national health advocacy group says more needs to be done to prevent such deaths. Trust for America's Health notes that the Dakotas have the lowest mortality rates in the nation due to drug overdoses. North Dakota ranks 51st with 3.4 overdose deaths per 100,000 population and South Dakota ranks 50th with 6.3 deaths per 100,000. Washington, D.C. is also considered.
When it comes to college degrees, South Dakotans rank 34th among in the nation with 26 percent of residents older than 25 having earned a bachelor's degree. Since 2000, the rate of bachelor's degree completion has slowly but steadily increased across both the state and the nation, from 21.5 percent in 2000 to 26.3 percent in 2012 for South Dakota. Nationally, the rate went from 24.4 percent to 29.1 percent. South Dakota also does better among residents who are 25 to 34 years old where 29.2 percent have a bachelor's degree, ranking the state 30th in the U.S.
South Dakota's tobacco prevention funding should be nearly tripled, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control. According to the American Lung Association, South Dakota spends $4 million a year on smoking prevention and cessation. Even this amount is $1 million less than the ALA says state law requires. The CDC recommends that South Dakota spend nearly $12 million a year on smoking programs to $11.7 million. They say the state can meet this target if it spends 21 percent of tobacco taxes it collects and tobacco settlement funds it receives each year.
The Dakotas and Northern Plains states have among the lowest percentages of taxpayers who claim the Earned Income Tax Credit on their federal income tax returns. Just more than 16 percent of South Dakotans and 13 percent of North Dakotans took advantage of the credit that assists low-income people. The conservative Tax Foundation released a study in late January with their state-by-state analysis. EITC is, as the Tax Foundation notes, "a refundable tax credit targeted at low-income, working individuals and families.
Need to fill up the gas tank? If you live in South Dakota, you might want to wait until Wednesday. Midweek is the cheapest day to fill up in South Dakota, according to a recent study by Gasbuddy.com. Taking a weekend trip to Minneapolis, Minn.? You're in luck. GasBuddy says the weekend is the cheapest time to purchase gasoline in the Gopher State. Weekends are the cheapest for most states, GasBuddy found, but some states like South Dakota had lowest prices on weekdays.
Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and several other former governors continue to support Common Core educational benchmarks that they helped develop. The Bipartisan Policy Center's Governors' Council includes seven former Republican and Democratic governors: Phil Bredesen, of Tennessee; Jim Douglas, of Vermont; Brad Henry, of Oklahoma; Linda Lingle, of Hawaii; Sonny Perdue, of Georgia; Mike Rounds, of South Dakota and Ted Strickland, of Ohio.
By Northern Plains News Car insurance consumers in South Dakota experience less variation in premiums during the course of the year than do buyers in every other state.