It’s Blog One, Get Two Free! Here are three versions of the same story about South Dakota finishing Fiscal Year 2017 with a budget surplus of $7.9 million:
The Republican Partisan Version: Governor Dennis Daugaard announced today that his administration kept South Dakota’s budget balanced for the sixth year in a row. Conservative Republicans have used their frugality, self-reliance, and common-sense supermajorities to guide South Dakota to yet another responsible budget surplus. According to, [insert your favorite local Republican here], “This no-nonsense budgeting helps leave more money in the pockets of hard-working South Dakotans.”
The Democratic Partisan Version: Republicans continue their tradition of underfunding the vital public programs that South Dakota needs while transferring wealth from the pockets of hard-working South Dakotans to Pierre’s reserve slush funds. “We’d prefer that the Governor and Legislature spend more money to support the basic public services that citizens in other states enjoy,” said [insert your favorite local Democrat here]. “But when Republicans don’t even spend all the money they take from us taxpayers and instead squirrel it away in government mayo jars, something stinks in Pierre!”
|Fiscal Year||Surplus (million $)|
The Non-Partisan Version: For the 127th time, South Dakota managed to do what two sections of the state constitution require: we didn’t let state expenses exceed state revenues. We still took in $7.6 million less than the downwardly revised revenue projection the Legislature adopted last March (the actual drop from what the Legislature , but state government managed not to spend $15.6 million that had been appropriated. Two thirds of those savings came from the the Department of Social Services providing less assistance than expected.
We actually took in $223K more in sales tax than the Legislature guesstimated in March. But the year-round sales tax figures remained disappointing. If sales had stayed flat, the sales tax increase from 4% in FY2016 to 4.5% in FY2017 would have produced an additional $107.6 million all by itself. The actual increase in sales tax revenue from FY2016 to FY2017 was only $90.3 million. Those figures indicate that taxable sales dropped in FY2017 by 1.79%.
Note that the budget adopted in 2016 for FY2017 appropriated $1.595 billion in general funds. Actual ongoing receipts were only $1.541 billion. A little subtraction tells me actual state expenditures were $1.562 billion. Saving us from a $21.6-million deficit was $29 million in one-time receipts.