Buckle Down and Budget: Looking Forward to Legislative Session
By: Governor Kristi Noem
October 27, 2023
As we close in on the start of legislative session, I have been meeting with my team to discuss how we can deliver the best possible results for the people of South Dakota during those weeks.
I am also working on my budget. While South Dakota has seen unprecedented growth, we have not been immune from the burdensome regulations and inflation inflicted by the federal government, and America’s national economy continues to tank because of the extremist policies of the Biden Administration. Thanks to South Dakota’s conservative fiscal policies, our state economy is still strong. However, it is important to realize that this year’s budget will look more “normal” than it has the last several years.
South Dakota has had a balanced budget for 134 years. Now, our revenue rates are going back to normal, and we will have to rely on our tradition of smart money management to achieve our 135th year with a balanced budget.
We are a state that values fiscally conservative policies. We have no state income tax. We have a AAA credit rating. We have one of the only fully-funded pensions in the country. We make it a priority to cut government red tape wherever we can. And we let the taxpayers keep as many of their hard-earned dollars in their pockets as possible.
South Dakota has reaped the benefits of those conservative policies. We have had record surpluses and sales tax revenue over the last several years – and we have been able to use those dollars to give back to the people of our state.
Our budget for Fiscal Year 2024 funded important needs like K-12 education, healthcare providers, and state employees. It also included funding for the operation of regional behavioral health centers, 100% tuition assistance for our National Guard soldiers, and targeted increases for our state employee workforce and community service providers.
The legislature also chose to give the people of South Dakota a sales tax holiday to ease the burden of inflation. While it’s no secret that this was not the tax cut I wanted to deliver for the people last session, I’m hopeful the legislature will make this tax cut permanent. Instead, there is already talk among legislators about repealing the sales tax holiday to free up money for more spending.
I point all of this out because there are many members of our state legislature that have not experienced a “normal budget year.” 51 of the 105 members of our legislature have only been serving since 2020. That means that 49% of South Dakota’s legislative body has not experienced a fiscal year without record-breaking economic growth. These legislators are used to having huge revenues and surpluses to spend on whatever they want. They have not had to do what more and more families across America are having to do – stick to a tight budget.
Don’t get me wrong, we’ve accomplished some great things with our revenues and surpluses, but now it’s time for us to get back to conservative spending.
We cannot raise taxes on South Dakota families. They deserve to keep their hard-earned dollars. They deserve a permanent tax cut. What we can do is limit government spending and focus on the needs of our people.
“Under God, the People Rule.” We need to remember those five words that make up our state motto all 38 days of legislative session. We work for the people of South Dakota, and we owe it to them to deliver the sound fiscal policies that have made our economy the strongest in the nation.