Legislative Report

Legislative Report
Some points of interest in the governor's 2007 budget included a $2 million energy relief/assistance to K-12 to help with some of the high costs of energy this year. As well, there is an expected increase of $127.33 dollars per student which will be added to the base formula.

As for the FTE issue of employees, there is a request for an additional 192 employees for the 2007 budget, 39 of which are under the governor's control, and the majority (24) will be directed towards the new D-wing of the new prison facility that will house medium to high security prisoners which will need the new staffing.

The new structural deficit this year will be $5.3 million out of the $3.2 billion budget, which will need to come from cost cutting or in the governor's choice one of the trust funds. The expectations is that this will place the state on course to be in the black for the budget year 2008. The state has not been in this position for many years.

What was not discussed was the expected proceeds from the sale of the S.D. railroad � since the transaction is not complete I assume he did not want to include it in this budget but may provide additional monies later in the

year which could offset the money provide to the deep underground laboratory in Lead.

Those who are fans of the State Fair may have lots of troubles due to the near $1 million dollars it will need to cover last years costs. This is up from $750,000 Expect lots of debate on this one.

The governor added a 3 percent increase for state employees in his budget as well as for state health care workers. These will be pretty significant numbers and we will have to see if they can hold up throughout the appropriations process with all of the FTEs that are also being requested

Another topic that was not brought up that I was hoping to hear more about was the Clawback the state is expected to pay out once the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan goes into effect this January. This has the potential to really hit the state hard in the pocketbook, and nothing was mentioned.

The budget is contingent upon the continued stability of the economy (South Dakota has strong economic numbers in many categories), and continuing to be conservative in the dollars we spend and to increase the tax base

without having to increase tax dollars.

Lastly we are still at the mercy of the federal government because as they try to balance their budget, the cuts will continue to come our way. When this happens it puts more stress on the services the state can provide to the people.

Lastly, keep the American troops and their families in your thoughts, especially those who perished in Sunday's attack in Iraq.

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