Following Senate resolution, governor’s office begins sending daycare grant checks

Some House lawmakers have been critical of the governor’s administrations handling of the daycare grants.
Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 3:46 PM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. - After days of back and forth between House lawmakers and the governor’s office, $61 million worth of daycare grant checks are making their way out to daycare providers across South Dakota, according to State Auditor Rich Sattgast.

The move to do so came just moments after the South Dakota State Senate agreed unanimously Wednesday to suspend the rules and pass SR 701, a resolution “acknowledging authority to spend federal funds as authorized in the general appropriations act for the current fiscal year.”

Gov. Kristi Noem’s administration took the Senate’s resolution as the green light to move forward with the proposed grant plan, despite still lacking any sort of approval from the House. A similar effort to suspend the rules and put a bill on the floor regarding the daycare grants failed in the House Tuesday by two votes.

The daycare grant program was a major proposal by Noem during her annual budget address in December. A number of lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Appropriations have raised concerns about the governor’s ability to disperse the grants without the appropriate legislative approval.

“Governor Noem used her existing authority to get the federal grant out to daycare providers as quickly as possible,” said Department of Social Services (DSS) Secretary Laurie Gill. DSS was responsible for disbursement of the grants. “The legislature had questions, and we (originally) delayed payment because of those questions.”

Fund for the grants come from the American Rescue Plan, a coronavirus relief measure passed by Congress last March.

State Rep. Chris Karr (R-Sioux Falls), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Appropriations, was one of the state lawmakers who took issue with Noem’s decision to disperse the checks without a bill clearing the legislature.

“We appropriate with a specific purpose,” said Karr. “Which means if we didn’t discuss it or have some anticipation of receiving it and that authority wasn’t included for that specific purpose in last year’s budget when we left, they (the Governor’s office) don’t have the authority.”

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