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Spend More on Education, Allow South Dakota to Deficit-Spend

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


  1. jerry 2020-04-01 13:16

    Always cut public services in republican world, always. The irony of all of this is that South Dakota has not had a true balanced budget forever. We here are always deficit spending because we take in more from the federal government than we send. Who is kidding who?

    South Dakota needs to open up the rainy day fund, because it’s damn sure pouring out. This would show the need for more federal help with covering the state’s needs. With a state income tax, we wouldn’t worry about this. To cover it even better, put a raise on the financial transaction tax like during and after the Great Depression, also a higher tax on the billions we off-shore in South Dakota for the ultra wealthy crooks and liars.

    Instead of closing schools and laying off needed workers, keep them open and provide higher wages to stimulate the economy, to raise sales tax to go along with a state income tax.

  2. grudznick 2020-04-01 19:51

    No more election meddling. Clamp that stuff down. Focus on the important stuff.

  3. Debbo 2020-04-01 20:42

    Jerry, in regard to your last paragraph, school buildings can’t be open until it’s safe to do so. Of course that doesn’t mean school and learning is closed and maybe that’s what you meant. So the state can ensure that there are enough tablets to go around for every student and broadband for them to use. Ideally Big Tech ought to donate millions of tablets to schools across the country, but, greed ….. Education is the state’s responsibility, so if Dell doesn’t come through, SD must.

  4. jerry 2020-04-01 21:09

    Correct Debbo, what I meant was that after this crisis is over. The state canceled collective bargaining on one side and they canceled funding for talented smart young folks to further their education, and for what? The state offers a disgraceful raise for the teachers that will teach our young the basics of dealing with the next crisis. If we don’t educate, to form a base, how can we deal with the next virus. These will not end. We need to spend more and then we can ask the government for a largerer handout to cover that.

    Sorry for that confusion on my part. Of course the school’s need closing now and so does everything else. We should all be on lock down until this flattens.

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