The FBI’s crime stats for 2016 say that violent crime went up for the second year in a row last year while property crime continued a fourteen-year decline:
There were an estimated 17,250 murders in the U.S. last year, an 8.6 percent increase from 2015.
Overall violent crime rose 4.1 percent last year, while property crime fell 1.3 percent compared to 2015 figures.
…there were an estimated 1.2 million violent crimes in the U.S. last year. Though the violent crime numbers rose from 2015 to 2016, the five-year and 10-year trends show an increase from 2012 (up 2.6 percent) and a decrease from 2007 (down 12.3 percent) [Federal Bureau of Investigation, “2016 Crime Statistics Released,” 2017.09.25].
But the recent jumps, while prompting concern and a search for causes, do not reflect a picture of spiraling lawlessness suggested by some observers, criminologists said. President Trump earlier this year falsely claimed the U.S. murder rate had surged to its highest level in nearly 50 years.
…“The overall picture is that homicide and violent crime rates went up dramatically in the 1970s and ’80s and ’90s, and then underwent a dramatic drop in the last 20 years, and leveled off,” said Robert Weisberg, a Stanford University criminal law professor and co-director of the school’s Criminal Justice Center [Evan Sernoffsky, “FBI: Violent Crime up in California and US for 2nd Straight Year,” SFGate, 2017.09.25].
The Legislative Research Council just issued the July and August reports on Medical Services Data and Trends, which tell us how much South Dakota and Uncle Sam are spending on Medicaid and for how many South Dakotans. Total enrollment in Medicaid, child Medicaid, and CHIP dropped 1.7% from March to July, then bounced back a bit (half a percentage point) in August, but remains below the 12-month average of 119,424—about 14% of South Dakotans getting their health coverage from government.
62,824 South Dakotans used those government-financed health care services at a cost of $79.1 million. That’s 9% higher than the twelve-month average of $72.6 million. Uncle Sam covers nearly 62% of that bill and the $1.03 billion we’ve budgeted for all Medicaid services this fiscal year.
In the sheer coincidence department, in the eight fiscal years from FY2002 to FY2009, the years we may describe as the Bush II economy, the average yearly rate of increase in Medicaid enrollments in South Dakota was 4.37%. From FY2010 to FY2017, the years we may describe as the Obama economy, Medicaid enrollments increased at an average yearly rate of 1.81%. The highest enrollment increases under each President happened immediately post-recession: 10.42% in FY2002 and 6.20% in FY2010.
This health care brought to you and tens of thousands of your neighbors by your government and by taxpayers like you. Well done, citizens!
The lowest annual pay by far is in leisure and hospitality.
The best-paying sectors are financial activities and professional/business services.
The industries employing the most South Dakotans (as counted by those covered by unemployment insurance) are trade/transportation/utilities, government, and education health.
The smallest employment sectors are information and natural resources/mining (that includes agriculture).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a slightly higher preliminary average annual 2016 wage for South Dakota: $41,177. The national average annual wage in 2016 was $53,611. South Dakota thus earned 76.81% of the national average. We rank 48th in the nation; only folks in Idaho, Mississippi, and Montana make less. Minnesota ranks 13th.
According to that RPP data, in 2015, buying stuff in South Dakota cost 88.2% of what buying stuff cost nationwide.
In 2015, South Dakota’s average salary was $40,181.
In 2015, the national average salary was $52,942.
Divide our 2015 salary ($40,181) by our 2015 Regional Price Parity, and you find that South Dakotans had $45,557 of practical purchasing power.
In 2015, our raw average pay was 75.90% of the national average, 48th in the nation.
In 2015, our RPP-adjusted purchasing power was 86.05% of the national average, 44th in the nation.
Now if you’ll permit me to stretch the data a little, let’s apply to 2015 regional price parities to the preliminary 2016 average wages BLS reports. How do we compare to our neighbors?
2016 wage adj RPP
We have the second-lowest average salary but also the lowest RPP in the region. Divide the former by the latter, and we expand our purchasing power advantage over Montana, almost catch up with Wyoming, but remain thousands of dollars behind our other four neighbors. Move from South Dakota to Minnesota, and the purchasing power of your average paycheck rises over 19%.
If I apply the 2015 RPPs to 2016 average wages, South Dakota moves up from 48th in the nation to 43rd. Minnesota moves up from 13th to 8th.
Whether we look at raw dollars or purchasing power based on regional price parities, South Dakota remains one of the hardest states in which to make a living.
Some positive context:Over the past decade, South Dakota has shown remarkable growth in average salary. In 2006, our average annual wage was $30,291, only 71.21% of the national average. From 2006 to 2016, South Dakota posted 35.94% growth in annual wages, the third-best growth in the nation. National growth was 26.04%; the two states that outgrew us were North Dakota at a well-oiled 56.06% and Washington at 37.60%. We’re still behind, but we’re catching up!
The bad news is: the gap is getting worse. We compete with our surrounding states for teachers, and we are falling farther behind them. Ten years ago South Dakota’s average teacher salary was about $2000 a year behind North Dakota. We were 51st in teacher pay and they were 49th. Montana was 47th and Nebraska was 42nd.
Today we are still closest to North Dakota among our surrounding states, but the gap is not $2000. It is $8000. We still rank 51st. North Dakota has moved to 36th. Montana to 28th. Nebraska 32nd.
And even when you adjust for cost of living, South Dakota falls behind our surrounding states. We are closest to North Dakota, but nearly $6000 behind. After adjusting for cost of living, South Dakota is nearly $10,000 behind Minnesota.
If South Dakota wants to maintain high student achievement, we need a new generation of high quality teachers. And we’re not going to get them unless we become more competitive with surrounding states. And when you delve into the numbers you reach the conclusion that the only way to become more competitive is to increase our state’s average teacher salary… [Gov. Dennis Daugaard, State of the State Address, Pierre, SD, 2016.01.12].
Republican propaganda blog Dakota War College looks at a new USA Today analysis that finds South Dakota had the third-lowest teacher pay in May 2016 but the eleventh best “affordability” and makes silly conclusions:
USA Today/Argus Leader just released an article showing South Dakota smack in the middle of the pack of a comparison taking affordability to live alongside with teacher pay….
The salary data predates Governor Daugaard’s sales tax hike. USA Today cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data from May 2016. The sales tax hike took effect in June 2016.
The BLS stats count 13,220 teachers in South Dakota. The South Dakota Department of Education counted 9,350 total classroom FTEs in the 2015–2016 school year. The Governor’s salary plan assumed about 9,000 teachers. The USA Today/BLS figures thus do not reflect the pre-plan pay of the employees targeted by the plan.
The USNWR “Affordability” ranking is the smallest component of a more encompassing “Opportunity” ranking. Minnesota ranks 2nd. South Dakota ranks 25th. Every neighboring state but Montana (30th) outranks us on “Opportunity.”
In 2016, Governor Daugaard dismissed cost of living as an excuse for low teacher pay and adopted regional competitiveness as our teacher pay benchmark. We have no data yet showing that we have reached that benchmark or that anyone deserves a Pat on the back.
The Libertarians, Constitutionists, and Others together still make up only 0.55% of the registered electorate. Republicans make up 46.21% of the registered electorate. Democrats have sunk to 30.63%. Independents have risen to 22.60%.
Since their peak in July 2009 (you know, the good old day, when we had a couple of courageous members of Congress and a knowledgeable, articulate President), South Dakota Democrats have lost 37,829 registered voters, a decline of 18.36%. Over the same eight years, the number of independent voters has increased by 37,830, a gain of 43.83%. (Be careful: in 2009, SOS Nelson reported indies and other non-GOP/Dems all in one column, so the comparison is not perfect.) Since July 2009, South Dakota Republicans have added 11,045 to their rolls, while the number of active registered voters has increased by 12,649.
With the release yesterday of his explanation of Speaker Mickelson’s unconstitutional ban on out-of-state ballot question campaign contributions, the Attorney General has now cranked out fourteensixteen* explanations for ballot questions, six of which the Secretary of State lists this morning as approved for petitioning. Five more proposed initiatives await the Attorney General’s review.
Statute gives the Attorney general sixty days to release these explanations. Assuming that initiative sponsors revise and submit their language to the A.G. as soon as they can after Legislative Research Council review, Jackley has released most of his explanations with a week or two to spare:
Measure (c = circulating)
Asst. Suicide (c)
Rec. Cannabis (c)
Med. Cannabis (c)
IM22 redux (c)
potty bill 2
open primary/redistricting (Samuelson)
open primary (Kirby)
BQC donor lims
Tobacco tax to cut vo-tech tuition
Bigger tobacco tax to cut vo-tech tuition
I assume the 77 days between LRC response and A.G. response on the second anti-trans potty bill (which still isn’t circulating, thank goodness) involved the sponsor’s delay in submitting his language, not illegal foot-dragging by our Attorney General.
Senator Marion Michael Rounds, like all Trump enablers, had a really bad week. Senator Rounds caps off his really bad week by writing a really bad column. “Government-Run Health Care Does Not Work,” moans Senator Rounds, after seven months in which he and his Republican majority haven’t really worked.
If you read no other response to Senator Rounds’s sniveling horsehockey, read this:
No Democrat I know of is advocating “government-run health care.” No one is saying we should nationalize every hospital, make every doctor a government employee, and submit everyone’s diagnosis and treatment to a vote of Congress.
Following recent votes in the Senate, it’s clear that reforming our health care system is no easy task [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
You and your party sure thought health care reform was easy during seven years of shouting, “Repeal ObamaCare!” Only “following recent votes” does the difficulty of the task become clear to you? Unlike you and your Dear Leader, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party knew that health care could be so complicated, and when they took over in 2009, they spent over a year crafting a workable plan that is helping Americans today.
However, I remain committed to working with my colleagues toward a solution. We believe affordable health care is best achieved through a competitive, market-based system that allows for innovation, competition and optionality [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
“Competitive, market-based system” is at the core of every plan your party has put to a vote this year, and every one of those plans failed to win enough Republican votes to pass. “Competitive, market-based system” was also at the core of the part of the health care system prior to the ACA (and Medicaid, and Medicare) that failed to deliver coverage and care for poor, old, and sick Americans. Your “competitive, market-based system” does not work in health care.
In the quest to address Obamacare’s failures, some have been advocating for a single-payer, government-run health care system in which health care is provided for every single citizen for free and financed by taxes [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
Wrong—see above: government-paid, not government-run. Also, single-payer does not make care free. We all pay, through our taxes, just like we all pay now through insurance. We just pay a lot less.
Care is rationed, and citizens cede their health care decisions to a central government bureaucracy [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
Additionally, the cost makes it unsustainable for future generations. Either taxes – which are already too high – will continue to skyrocket in order to pay for universal care, our debt will spiral even further out of control, or both [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
Wrong—single-payer is cheaper than private insurance, so single-payer is more sustainable than the current system.
Our ability to make decisions for ourselves and our families will suffer. Bureaucrats don’t like taking advice [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
Do Grandma and Grandpa’s ability to make decisions suffer under Medicare? And how much advice do the profit-driven agents at your family insurance agency like to take from patients?
And we have many examples to substantiate this: In the U.S., California and Vermont recently tried to implement universal health care at the state level; both were abandoned as quickly as they were enacted due to its cost [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
However, a report by professors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, commissioned in part by National Nurses United, estimated that after taking in the savings of single-payer, such as lower administrative costs and prices of pharmaceuticals, the actual cost of the plan would end up at around $331 billion. And, because 70 percent of the state’s current health care spending is covered by public programs like Medicare and Medi-Cal, California would only need to come up with $106 billion in new revenue, which researchers proposed could be done through two new taxes (a 2.3 percent gross receipts and sales tax), with exemptions for small businesses and tax credits to offset costs for low-income families. In exchange, nearly all of Californians’ medical expenses would be covered, doing away with premiums, copays, and deductibles [Clio Chang, “What Killed Single-Payer in California?” New Republic, 2017.06.30].
That exchange—taxes go up but premiums, copays, and deductibles go bye-bye—turns out to be a good deal:
But let’s say they’re right and the cost is closer to $400 billion overall, and that $100 billion in new revenues is needed (the high end of their $50b-$100b scale). That would pencil out to a monthly cost to each Californian of $208. ($100 billion / 40 million = $2500, which is the annual sum; divide that by 12 and you’re at $208.)
The average monthly premium for a Californian, as of 2016, was just under $600. For a household, it’s just above $1600.
In other words, even assuming the fiscally conservative analysis of the Senate Appropriations Committee and spreading the cost evenly across every Californian, single-payer would cost a third of what it currently costs Californians – just for health insurance alone. And unlike the present system, this would mean Californians don’t have to pay anything else beyond that $208/mo. No copays. No co-insurance. No out of pocket costs (at least within the Golden State). The ultimate savings would therefore be even greater. Californians could wind up paying just a quarter of what they pay now, if not less [“Single-Payer Would Cost a Third of Current Health Care Costs Per Family,” Health California, 2017.05.26].
…even [Governor Peter] Shumlin’s projections indicated that the plan would reduce Vermont’s overall health spending and lower costs for the 90% of Vermont families with household incomes under $150,000. Despite differing projections, all three studies showed that single payer was economically feasible [John E. McDonough, “The Demise Of Vermont’s Single-Payer Plan,” New England Journal of Medicine, 2015.04.23].
Now back to Senator Rounds:
In Canada, long wait times in their single-payer system are the norm.According to a Fraser Institute report, British Columbia residents have to wait up to six months just to get an MRI. Ontario’s own Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care states that residents may have to wait up to 11 months for hip replacement surgery [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
Sure, Canada’s wait times exceed the international average, but…
Overall, then, that’s about 0.13 percent of Canadians and 0.08 percent of Americans who flee their countries for health care. Those are pretty similar numbers. The only real difference is the reason for leaving. Canadians mostly cite wait times for elective surgery. Americans mostly cite the high cost of medical treatment [Kevin Drum, “Americans Flee America for Overseas Health Care Just Like Canadians,” Mother Jones, 2017.02.08].
Thus destroyed on the Canadian comparison, Senator Rounds flees to Europe:
Across Europe, where universal health care is prevalent, the cost to governments for this care is exploding, contributing to rising national debts. But instead of increasing taxes, which oftentimes are already over 50 percent of one’s income, governments are slowing down care to curb the cost, and innovation is stymied [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
While there are good employees in South Dakota at both agencies, nationwide these programs have been plagued with decades of long wait times, bureaucratic mismanagement, corruption and – most importantly – providing inadequate quality of care to Americans. In some cases, patients have even died waiting for care. Meanwhile, administrative costs have skyrocketed, wasting countless taxpayer dollars on paperwork instead of focusing on patient care [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
The IHS is chronically underfunded. It receives a set amount of money each year to take care of 2.2 million native people — no matter how much care they may need. On the reservation, IHS facilities often don’t have services that people elsewhere expect, such as emergency departments or MRI machines. And those limited facilities can be hours away by car. In town, reaching care is easier, but clinics also don’t have enough funding to meet all of the health needs of the community. And people can’t get the free medication they are entitled to through the IHS anywhere but an IHS facility.
…In 2013, Indian Health Service spending for patient health services was $2,849 a person, compared with $7,717 for health care spending nationally, according to a report from the National Congress of American Indians. That despite the fact that Native Americans typically have more serious health problems than the general public, including higher rates of diabetes, liver disease and unintentional injuries [Misha Friedman, “For Native Americans Health Care Is a Long, Hard Road Away,” NPR, 2016.04.13].
A set amount of money each year—that’s exactly what Senator Rounds wanted to do to Medicaid. Senator Rounds would have ignored the care the poor actually need, just as he ignores the care American Indians under IHS actually need.
I wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have access to quality health care if they want it. No one should be priced out of health insurance for themselves or their families [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
But forcing all Americans onto a costly, ineffective system that will reduce the quality of care and making them surrender all control of their health care decisions to the federal government is not the answer [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
The Republican plans you voted for, Senator Rounds, would have forced millions to pay more for insurance policies that cover less than their current plans. And no one under the ACA, the Canada Health Act, the UK National Health Service, or Australian Medicare has “surrender[ed] all control of their health care decisions to the federal government.” You’re not criticizing a real policy alternative here, Senator Rounds. You’re crying “Dragon!” to distract us from what you’re trying to burn down.
America is home to the best health care providers in the world, due to a free market system that allows for innovation and competition. Replacing Obamacare with a competitive, free-market system that actually controls costs, allows for innovation and focuses on the patient will allow us to continue our proud tradition of being the world’s health leader [Rounds, 2017.07.28].
Nothing in your three votes directly provided for more innovation, cost control, or focus on patients. Your votes just would have made health insurance unaffordable for millions of Americans.
* * *
That’s every word of Senator Rounds’s column on “government-run health care,” and darn near every word is wrong.
Unable to win on the facts, unable to persuade a majority in the Senate away from Barack Obama’s so-far successful Affordable Care Act, Senator Mike Rounds resorts to fiction to win an argument no one is making. We don’t want government-run health care. We just want a more efficient way to pay the bills. Toward that end, Senator Rounds has offered nothing of substance. Nothing.
Now on the interim task force on initiative and referendum, Senator Bolin has offered two simpler proposals, leaving the threshold for placing measures on the ballot alone but proposing either a 55% or 60% threshold for approving amendments in the general election.
During the debate on Bolin’s SJR 2, I noted that his 60% requirement would have reduced the number of amendments passed by voters since 2000 from fourteen to five.
Revising the LRC table, I find that since 1970, voters have approved 45 of 97 proposed constitutional amendments. Raise the threshold to 55%, and only 31 measures would have passed. Raise it to 60%, and only 14 would have passed.
For the parliamentarians among us, if we considered the traditional parliamentary rule-changing threshold of two-thirds, only eight amendments out of the 97 over the last 46 years would have passed.
Senator Bolin’s fundamental motivation here is sound: amending a constitution should be harder than changing laws. But as I noted in our discussion of SJR 2 last winter, we already make amending the constitution harder than changing our laws. Laws can pass by Legislative vote or by citizen initiative. The Legislature cannot pass amendments by itself; any amendments the Legislature seeks must also win the approval of the voters. Citizens can pass amendments without the Legislature, but placing an initiated amendment on the ballot requires twice as many petition signatures as an initiated law.
I was going to add that citizens are probably more wary of changing their constitution than they are of changing their laws. However, since 1970, we have passed 46% of the amendments that have come our way and only 37% of the laws placed on the ballot by initiative or referendum. Since 1890, that difference is even greater: we’ve passed 49% of proposed amendments but only 29% of proposed laws.
We’re also more likely to pass amendments proposed by the Legislature than those initiated by our fellow citizens. Of 222 amendments placed on the ballot by the Legislature, we’ve approved 112—that’s one more than 50%! Of the 16 we have initiated, we have approved 6—that’s 38%, about the same as the rate at which we’ve approved initiated laws (10 out of 26).
Those numbers suggest that we the people hold our state constitution less sacrosanct than our statutes. Or maybe South Dakotans are just pragmatists who won’t let abstractions from political philosophers like Senator Bolin and me stand in the way of fixing problems.
Statewide, there are a total of 20,224 students reported in 2016 with various learning disabilities, while 2015 reported 19,423 students, according to the South Dakota Department of Education.
The highest number of students had a specific learning disability at 6,846, while the second highest was a speech and language disorder with 4,293 students. The district with the most students requiring special needs was Sioux Falls with 3,788 students [Sara Bertsch, “Mitchell, State See Increase in Special Education Students,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2017.07.08].
DOE stats say that our public schools served 4.12% more special ed students last school year. From 2004 through 2011, that rate was less than 1%, with 2007 and 2008 special ed counts actually dropping a bit. Since 2012, yearly increases in special ed students have exceeded 1%. Last year’s increase is the highest in the eighteen years counted on DOE’s spreadsheet.
The number of special ed students is increasing a little faster than total public pre-K–12 enrollment. In 2000, the farthest back year for which DOE has enrollment figures on its main enrollment webpage, 12.94% of public school students were in special ed. That percentage peaked at 14.64% in 2006; dropped back to a hair below 14% in 2011, 2012, and 2013, then bounced back into the fourteens to a new high of 14.89% in 2016.
In ten of the last sixteen years, the change in special education enrollment has been higher than the change in overall enrollment:
Since 2000, public pre-K–12 enrollment has grown at an average annual rate of 0.37%, while special ed enrollment has grown at an average rate of 1.26%.
Thus, we are seeing special education students make up a slightly larger percentage of our public school enrollment. Since special education requires more specialized services and one-on-one attention, that means costs will increase faster than straight enrollment would suggest.