Governor Noem announces progress with new budget deals

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A big announcement from Governor Kristi Noem Monday, giving an update on several budget deals that have been worked out.

After what she says was quite a bit of negotiations between her staff and legislative leaders, the governor says teachers and staff will get a raise.

In a press conference Monday, Governor Noem addressed two major topics; hemp and pay increases for schools and state employees.

Governor Noem announced South Dakota's state budget will now be able to launch an industrial hemp program and to raise pay for teachers and state employees.

"We have a plan to fund 2% inflationary increases for schools, for providers, and for state employees," said Noem.

In December, Noem initially warned that the budget would be tight- leaving out raises for teachers and state workers.

She said there are several key factors that have to lead up to this.

"We had fewer people utilizing some of our programs and there were cost savings there, we knew that we were getting closer and then also revenues came in more optimistic and higher than we had previously projected in December. So, that's all good news and has helped us arrive at where we are today," said Noem.

Dave Roetman, Political Director of the South Dakota Republican Party, said, "They want to make sure that they under-promise and over-deliver. And it sounds like they're over-delivering which is great for all South Dakotans."

Another factor is the decision to pause state maintenance and repairs at 1.6% -- will also carve out additional revenue.

The announcement tackles several issues that have long been debated.

Noem has allotted $3.5 million in funding for the industrial hemp program.

Noem said, "I have strongly felt that if this program is going to happen in South Dakota then it had to be done in a responsible manner and that means funding it to the ability to make sure we can do it correctly."

As the session nears the end, the news is a sign in the right direction.

Roetman said, "We've only got a couple of weeks left and this has to come together before then end... it's definitely a positive sign. So if they're making an announcement like this, this sounds like it's very solid and it's going to happen."

Moving forward, The House & Senate will now have to sign off on the budget.

This needs to happen before Thursday when the session adjourns.