Press "Enter" to skip to content

Right-Wing Agony: Daugaard Awkwardly Hugs Democratic Policy on Teacher Pay, Medicaid Expansion

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.


  1. Winston 2015-12-08 16:56

    Didn’t Daugaard once publicly mention, that he voted for McGovern in ’72? ;-)

  2. larry kurtz 2015-12-08 16:58

    Always happy to be at your service, South Dakota Democrats.

  3. jerry 2015-12-08 17:20

    300 people died because of the republicans. I wonder why people are not speaking of this openly like in the media. Shouldn’t they be trying to prove the Democratic lady that said that wrong? Jihadi John, EB Rounds and NOem all support the continued butchery of even more South Dakotan’s. You would think they would stand up and prove this lady wrong. Of course, they cannot, because their is truth in her words and they do not want that to get out.

  4. grudznick 2015-12-08 17:51

    I could easily say that 50 people died last year because of gun-free zones or because Obama doesn’t force people to work when they are able. I listened to this speech on the TV and that young lady from PBS only interviewed libbies afterwards. Perhaps that signals that none of the Republicans are happy. I also heard the Governor say he hates slackards who won’t work. He hates it, he said. That may play into all of these things like this Medicaid thing and the BluRT-F. I think the BluRT-F probably expected the Governor to come riding to their rescue with some magic bucket of money but some of the legislatures need to step up and say where they get the money from and I, for one, hope some of it comes from the fat-cat administrators.

  5. Darin 2015-12-08 18:01

    “Miserly” as to education funding under Daugaard is an insult to misers. Is everyone going to give him a pass on the fact he proposed a .3% increase for k-12 education in his budget? That is a 3 tenths of one percent increase. So, in essence, he is banking on being able to pass a tax increase through the legislature (that takes a 2/3 vote) to fund a substantive increase in k-12 funding. Or maybe, he is crazy like a fox and is painting the legislature into a corner where they have to pass a tax increase for education or k-12 only gets .3%? No, I don’t think he is that strategic.

    Wasn’t it one year ago during this same budget address that Daugaard declared we had a “crisis” in road repair funding and proposed tax increases to rectify the situation? Now if a term-limited governor who last year proposed a tax increase for roads can’t have the intestinal fortitude to do the same for education, it just proves how out of wack his priorities are!

    We are supposedly directing part of the state’s portion of video lottery money to education funding, but we can’t even pay our teachers enough to tie for 50th in the nation! Wasn’t the idea of video lottery to add additional revenue to education funding?

  6. Roger Elgersma 2015-12-08 18:03

    The good thing about term limits is that one can come to a point where others are saying they are a lame duck and they are just getting the chance to follow their conscience. When Daugaard first got in he just found out that the budget had a problem. He blindly followed his people who told him cut only and hacked education. Now he gets a chance to correct that without losing a single campaign contribution.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-08 18:06

    Darin, good points. I believe Daugaard did go farther in recommending increased revenues for roads in last year’s budget address.

    By the way, I could be wrong about Tea Party agony on the teacher pay point. Recall that Rep. Lance Russell, a Republican whom I would place farther to the right of Daugaard, went farther than Daugaard yesterday in embracing the specific $75 million figure from the Blue Ribboneers and proposing a funding mechanism, transferring lottery money to K-12. Maybe the Tea Party will end up showing some leadership!

  8. mike from iowa 2015-12-09 08:30

    One month is more than sufficient time to be prepared to be totally underwhelmed by the Guv’s plan.

  9. mike from iowa 2015-12-09 08:56

    grudz-it could be entertaining to find out who your guv defines as slackards. Been my experience anyone on welfare is deemed to be a slackard by wingnuts. This includes poor people having to work multiple part time jobs and jump through punitive wingnut hoops to receive welfare. Are disabled people slackards in your eyes or those of Daugaard?

    I am of the opinion welfare slackards are the filthy rich who hire their lobbying for more welfare because they have the money to do so. It takes money to beg for more money.

  10. Jana 2015-12-09 10:13

    Interesting observation.

    The GOP mouthpiece blog has stayed away from the Governor’s budget address except for posting a long and tiresome attack on Governor Daugaard by the Koch brothers funded Americans For Prosperity.

    The silence from SDWC, Troy, Schoenbeck, Hoffman etc is deafening.

    Also find i interesting that there is hardly any commentary from GOP legislators on the Budget Address. Is is because Pierre is in a media desert or the legislators aren’t willing to go on the record in support or disagreement with the Governor.

  11. Feeling Blue in a Red State 2015-12-09 10:18

    Anyone else find it hilarious the Gov DD used treaty obligations as a bludgeon…like he ever gave 2 rips about following through with treaty obligations.

    Additionally, IHS is a mess. The working conditions are poor, the staffing is inadequate, the needed outreach services are lacking. Dumping Native American’s off Medicaid into IHS only, regardless of how much federal funding is increased to support IHS, won’t result in better services right away. There must be a transition to allow IHS to make significant quality improvements.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-12-09 10:26

    Hilarious and apropos. By itself, the argument is correct: states shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the feds’ obligation to carry out treaties.

    Practically, I understand that IHS is a mess. The feds could make this much simpler by leaving the current system in place, letting Indians seek health care at any convenient health facility, and even funneling payment through the current Medicaid system. But when an Indian claim comes to the state Medicaid office, we just forward that claim to IHS, and they write a check to cover the state’s Medicaid share. We could certainly use more IHS facilities and providers, but to make this plan work, we don’t need more buildings and doctors; we just need to write checks.

    Our Congressional delegation could help make sure we can write those checks by proposing full funding for IHS to meet our treaty obligations. Have Noem, Thune, and Rounds weighed in on this issue?

  13. mikeyc, that's me! 2015-12-09 12:31

    373 million federal dollars?
    “I hate dependency….I hate it.”

  14. Steve Sibson 2015-12-09 13:27

    “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.”

    This conservative argued for more teacher pay in Mitchell by not giving construction industry cronies $15 million to build a fine arts center. Conservatives are teacher-haters is an argument that is not true and does not help solve the problem.

Comments are closed.