SD House lawmakers discuss disagreement with Noem over impeachment, budget in roundtable
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - During a roundtable marking the end of the 2022 South Dakota state legislative session, discussions took place regarding budgeting, the Ravnsborg impeachment hearing, and Noem’s claims of corruption.
Rep. Chris Karr (R-Sioux Falls), Chair of the House Appropriations committee, says the committee’s goal has always been to work jointly with the Senate to put the budget together. They only stopped meeting jointly about midway through the session because they had separate bills to take care of, which is a normal part of the process. Karr points out that they did meet together to work on the budget down the stretch.
Karr says the last two years have been unique with the large amount of federal money coming into the state. The legislature has had approximately 16 billion dollars to appropriate over that period of time. Karr says that has been difficult to deal with, especially having a part-time citizen legislature.
Speaker Spencer Gosch (R-Glenham) says House Bill 1281, a bill that Governor Noem opposed, has to do with spending authority. They want to oversee what is done with the federal money that comes into the state. The bill would make it so the appropriations committee would have to meet before any new program created could use federal money.
Chris Karr’s response to Noem’s “corruption” claim
Governor Noem accused the Appropriations committee of being “corrupt,” because of a closed door meeting they had with Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg about his office’s budget.
Karr says the Attorney General’s office put in several budget requests months ago that were not accounted for in the Governor’s budget.
Karr claimed they had a one-on-one meeting to set the budget because the budget requests involved sensitive topics asking for several specialists in the Department of Criminal Investigation such as a missing and murdered indigenous specialist, and a human trafficking specialist.
“So the nature of those things, for us to understand the scope and the need for them, sometimes we have sensitive information, and so the co-chair and I decided we were going to have a one on one meeting to get clarification before we set the budgets. But that’s all we did, we had information provided to us and when we set the budget for the attorney generals office it was in a different meeting, in a public hearing, in this room, it was open to everybody and went through precisely the items that were budgeted,” said Karr.
That motion sheet is available to the public, a record of the budget that was decided on for the Attorney General’s office.
Speaker Gosch’s response to Noem’s “corruption” claims
“How many closed-door meetings does the executive branch have constantly, constantly going on. Ok, so if we want to talk about things that are not being exactly super transparent, why don’t we start with those. Inappropriate conversations might I add. Conversations that more or less that end up in nothing but belittling,” said Gosch.
Gosch said the “corruption” accusation was uncalled for, saying, “It’s just completely inappropriate and it’s just bleeding into her job for this, and she needs to get over it.” Gosch suggested that several state lawmakers had considered retracting their endorsement of Governor Noem based on her conduct towards them.
In the letter released Wednesday, Secretary Price drew attention to a text sent to Ravnsborg by a political advisor that referred to Mr. Boever, the man Ravnsborg killed, that said “Well, at least he was a democrat.” Gosch told reports that Ravnsborg did not respond to that text.
According to Gosch, that text message had nothing to do with the death of Mr. Boever and therefore should not be released to the public.
“The only reason you would release them is because you want to taint the perception of public opinion,” said Gosch.
Gosch says they would have been done with the hearing months ago if it wasn’t for outside attempts to interfere.
“There’s a personal vendetta here, so this is where it comes down to we have a job to do, I don’t necessarily care what that personal vendetta is or why but we have a job to do and it’s nothing to do with what they’re trying to do, but unfortunately they’re impeding our investigation.”
In regards to the Ravnsborg impeachment hearing, Gosch says they committee has done all the fact-finding interviews in public, and claims the only that happened behind closed doors during the committee’s executive sessions is “clerical work.”
In response to the roundtable discussion and a “cease and desist” letter sent to the Executive branch by the impeachment committee, Noem’s spokesperson Ian Fury said “instead of focusing on the (cease and desist) letter, you should be asking why (is) Speaker Gosch protecting the AG? And why is the media helping him do so?”
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