Extra meetings planned for appropriations committee as spending requests accumulate

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Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 9:27 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -When Governor Noem proposed spending for various projects across the state, it was an overall financial perspective. Members of the appropriations committee are getting a head start on their responsibilities for two reasons.

It’s not unusual for the appropriations committee to meet a day or two before the session starts, but this year is proving to be different in several ways.

“We’re gonna meet four days,” said Senator Jack Kolbeck from District 13. “We’re meeting Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday this week and then next Monday on the 10th. "

With remaining funds from the CARE act, President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and State revenue, there’s a lot of information for the South Dakota Joint appropriations committee to review.

“This will be my fourth year on Appropriations. I think this is probably one of the more challenging years just because there’s that excess funding,” said Kolbeck.

Lead co-chair Senator Jean Hunhoff details that each day will focus on one of the State’s largest departments: Board of Regents, Department of Human Services, Department of Social Services, and Department of Corrections.

She reflects on her years serving South Dakotans.

“We’ve gone to where we had no money and we had to make major cuts of 10%. Having a lot of money is just as challenging because I think the intent is everybody knows there’s money available. So everybody wants to come to the table,” said Hunhoff.

The legislative research council will be providing their findings to the committee. Representative Lina Duba has been reviewing all of the research and talking to constituents.

“The State revenues and federal monies that that drive our budget in this year, a huge portion of the Federal dollars are going to be put into our budget,” said Duba.

Each day, the appropriations committee begins with its own discussions.

“We meet an hour...before we have the session with the agency, so prior to that session, we should have reviewed their budget and developed some questions,” said Duba.

One of the challenges is to maintain a program once approved.

“It’s one time and so the projects you’re doing, in my personal opinion, is we’ve got to look at sustainability,” said Hunhoff.

“And South Dakota have a balanced budget by the constitution, and we work every year to maintain that balanced budget,” said Kolbeck.

The committee is also working ahead in case they have to put the budget on hold, to work on another item; the impeachment hearings of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.

“The AG’s situation... we may have to take a couple two, three days in the Senate, you know, especially in the Senate, and may have to deal with that as well,” said Kolbeck.

Whether a budget year is a feast or famine, the responsibility is taken seriously.

“Really have to make sure that those dollars are going to the best use and we’ll see some long-lasting results for our state,” said Hunhoff.

Governor Kristi Noem is calling for 6% raises across the board for state employees, healthcare workers, and teachers.

$200 million for workforce housing grants, $100 million for grants for more daycare centers, and $60 million for improvements to the state health lab, and several million for various improvements to the state’s colleges and universities. Most notable of those, Noem wants to invest $30 million into Dakota State University to help the university grow its cyber security program.

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