S.D. budget should be made public earlierBudget should be public earlier South Dakota lawmakers knew they would face a difficult task this session putting together a budget. The state is facing a $36 million budget shortfall for the 2011 fiscal year. Gov. Mike Rounds said last week that South Dakota can’t expect a last-minute reprieve in the form of a federal stimulus check like the state received last year.
By: Rapid City (S.D.) Journal , The Jamestown Sun
Budget should be public earlier
South Dakota lawmakers knew they would face a difficult task this session putting together a budget. The state is facing a $36 million budget shortfall for the 2011 fiscal year. Gov. Mike Rounds said last week that South Dakota can’t expect a last-minute reprieve in the form of a federal stimulus check like the state received last year.
With less than two weeks remaining in the session, lawmakers still haven’t seen a budget proposal. As of today, there are only nine days to go. The clock is ticking.
How do they plan to cover the $36 million budget hole? What will be cut? Will funding from one source be moved to a different area of the budget? Are there tax or fee increases? How will future budget shortfalls be solved — estimates have suggested budget shortages of $100 million or more in future years.
Democrats say they haven’t seen a budget. And the last time the Joint Appropriations Committee met — where the budget process begins — was Feb. 18. As of Monday, its calendar for the week was clear. This has been too typical of how the budget process works in the South Dakota Legislature.
The Legislature has to pass a budget for next year before they adjourn. Unfortunately, most lawmakers don’t get their first look at the budget plan until the last week of the session.
That doesn’t give them much time to thoroughly study the budget and assess how funding is apportioned. Do vital programs have enough money? Are there expenditures that deserve a closer look?
Taxpayers have even less opportunity to get necessary information on spending and changes in law that will affect their lives for the coming year.
The budget process is broken and the governor and lawmakers need to repair it. They have become too used to waiting to unveil a budget that doesn’t give anyone who might object to their spending priorities enough time to effect changes.
Republicans have large majorities in both houses and the budget they propose will almost certainly be adopted. So why the delay, and why the secrecy?
Waiting to the last minute to present a final budget does not serve the people.It would be better, in our view, if starting from the session’s first week, a budget plan is presented to lawmakers of both parties and made available to the public.