Democrats may be annoyed by yet another miserly budget address from a governor who doesn’t fully put his money where his mouth is on vital public goods.
But the folks most rankled by the Governor Dennis Daugaard’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget proposal, delivered this afternoon in Pierre, may be the hard-core conservative wing of the South Dakota Republican Party.
Governor Daugaard declined to allocate specific dollars to his own Blue Ribbon K-12 task force’s recommendations for tackling South Dakota’s teacher shortage. However, the Governor finally conceded the point that Democrats have been making for years: South Dakota needs to raise teacher pay. He said he will spring his plan on us next month when he opens the 2016 Session with his State of the State Address. The question before legislators will not be whether we should raise teacher pay but how and how much. That’s a blow to the Tea-flavored teacher-haters who were sure to bleat that paying teachers constitutes throwing money at a problem or that teachers should make less than the national average just like every other worker in South Dakota.
Governor Daugaard continues to refuse to spend a penny of state money to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. However, he now endorses the logic of President Obama’s plan. In his speech this afternoon, Governor Daugaard listed all of the groups of South Dakotans who will benefit from expanding Medicaid:
- Adults who cannot earn enough to gain subsidized coverage
- Tribal members, because IHS will expend money saved after expansion on better access
- Counties, through some poor relief expense savings
- Sheriffs with jails, and state prisons, through avoiding medical costs for indigent prisoners hospitalized longer than 24 hours
- Hospitals, through some charity care expense relief
- Nursing homes, community support providers, group homes, and others through opportunity for improved rates, if ongoing general funds are saved beyond expansion costs [Governor Dennis Daugaard, FY 2017 budget presentation, 2015.12.08, slide 35]
Governor Daugaard asked the Legislature to approve spending authority for $373 million in federal dollars that would flow into the state in the coming budget year if the feds and the tribes consent to Daugaard’s plan to cover all Indian health care with IHS dollars (100% from Uncle Sam) instead of Medicaid dollars (51.8% from Uncle Sam, 48.2% from South Dakota). Governor Daugaard’s budget would also allocate 55* new full-time equivalent jobs to handle the Medicaid expansion. The hard right thus faces the nightmare of a Republican governor expanding state government and inviting hundreds of millions of federal dollars into the state to stimulate the economy, create thousands of jobs, and save lives, for which all thanks will go to ObamaCare.
(By the way, on SDPB Radio following the Governor’s speech, Rep. Peggy Gibson [D-23/Huron] said that the Governor’s failure to expand Medicaid during the last three years has cost the lives of 300 South Dakotans.)
Watching the Governor finally come to the table days late and dollars short on teacher pay and Medicaid expansion is cause for muted celebration at best among Democrats. But for hard-core conservatives, Governor Daugaard’s capitulation on these key issues must be agony.
*Update 2015.12.09 14:17 CST: I originally reported that FTE number based on listening to the live audio. SDPB also reports 55 FTEs. The Summary of Recommended Budget Adjustments for the FY2017 budget proposal says the Governor wants 15 additional FTEs.
Update 2015.12.09 21:24 CST: A source tells me 55 is the correct number of new FTEs related to the possible Medicaid expansion. 7 FTEs go to Administration, 15 to Medical & Adult Services. Social Services gets 61.0 total new FTE, so I’m assuming the other 33 Medicaid expansion jobs must be in there somewhere.