Governor Dennis Daugaard just finished perhaps the most boring budget address of his gubernatorial career. With revenues lagging, there’s not much room for bold new initiatives. The only bold portion of the Governor’s address was his raging defiance of the voters (Dana Ferguson called it a “rant“) as he vowed not to fund Initiated Measure 22, the Anti-Corruption Act that voters passed on November 9.
Governor Daugaard worked IM22 into his speech by pointing out that the allocation of $4.92 million for the program’s “Democracy Credit Fund” would eat up nearly a quarter of the $19.7 million in new revenue assumed by Daugaard’s budget. He said that allocation would reduce the meager 1.0% increases he’s offering for K-12 and vo-tech schools, medical providers, and state employees to 0.6%. Governor Daugaard said voters couldn’t have wanted to spend money on public campaign financing at the expense of teachers and doctors and state employees, so he advocates zero dollars in his budget for IM22, which he called the worst-drafted legislation he’s seen in his decades in Pierre.
Governor Daugaard ignored the fact that the Koch Brothers made exactly that argument about public campaign financing in their deceptive ads all summer and fall, and voters still passed IM 22. Governor Daugaard dismisses that vote, saying voters were “hoodwinked.”
Governor Daugaard ignores the fact that, even amidst a $26.1-million revenue shortfall, he’s still able to come up with $22.7 million in one-time money to shift around in this year’s budget, which he throws at eleven other budget priorities but not anything the voters voted for (and not at K-12 education).
Governor Daugaard ignores the fact that IM 22’s $4.92-million allocation also pays for the operations of the new state ethics commission.
But ethics-schmethics: Daugaard says IM22’s supporters need to apologize to South Dakota’s sterling elected officials for besmirching their reputations and to South Dakota’s voters for tricking them.
Governor Daugaard himself offered no apology for proposing additional FY2018 K-12 funding that, at best, may raise average teacher pay $700 and leave our statewide average teacher pay more than a thousand dollars behind this year’s target of $48,500, not to mention a few more thousand behind the regionally competitive wages that we said we were after when we held our noses and backed his half-penny sales tax hike last Session.
The Governor’s vision is apparently clouded by his rage at IM22. He offered no vision for building on this year’s teacher-pay progress, no mention of Medicaid expansion (consider that issue dead), not even, as Senator Bille Sutton (D-21/Burke) pointed out afterward on public radio, any plan for replenishing the Build South Dakota economic development fund, which Sutton says is running out of cash. We’re just going tread fiscal water, protect the status quo… and by gum not spend one penny respecting the will of the voters on IM22.