South Dakota’s response to an economic crisis—cut the budget and pray for help from Uncle Sam and T. Denny—runs counter to sound fiscal policy. When the free market fails, we need to act as a community, through government, to help people weather the storm.
Consider just our increased needs in education: With the prospect of unemployment shooting to 6.7% here in South Dakota this month (15% for Q2 nationwide? 24% like in Israel already? 30%?) driving workers to shelter on campus and gain new job skills, South Dakota will need to increase its support for vo-techs and universities. If the White House keeps moving Easter back and we really do have to put normal life on hold for two years to save two million Americans, we’ll need to invest in more hardware, software, public broadband, and educational technology support staff to build a robust and universal online learning system to get K-12 students and teachers through the 2020–2021 school year.
We can’t say, “Well, darn, sales tax is down, so we have to sell the DSU campus and lay off half of our teachers and firefighters and unemployment insurance staff.” When bad times hit, government has to do more, not less.
Thus, I propose an eleventh, a twelfth, and a thirteenth piece of emergency legislation (read my first six from March 11 and my additional four proposals from March 17… #8 of which the Legislature adopted in part Monday in House Bill 1298, empowering the Board of Elections to delay the primary until August) for the Legislature to take up in a likely Special Session:
- Revise House Bill 1294, the general appropriations act for Fiscal Year 2021, to add emergency spending on K-12, higher ed, public health, social assistance, and other vital public services.
- Repeal 2017 Senate Bill 59, returning SDCL 2-1-12 to its previous language and thus allowing ballot measures approved by the voters to take effect immediately after the completion of the statewide canvass of the vote, usually the week after the election.
- Place on the November 2020 general election ballot a constitutional amendment repealing Article 12 Section 7, the redundant balanced-budget amendment approved in 2012, and amending Article 13 Section 2 either to add public health emergency and economic recession to the conditions allowing the state to incur more than $100,000 in debt or to simply repeal that $100K cap.
South Dakota needs deficit spending to take care of its people and its failing economy. The above three measures are necessary to enact that sound fiscal policy.