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Hey, $19M Surplus! Don’t Just Sit There; Do Something About Coronavirus!

Governor Kristi Noem announced her second straight $19-million surplus yesterday: $19.1 million left over this year, $19.4 million left over last year. Both years under Noem, sales taxes have not grown as much as projected, but both years Noem has spent less than the Legislature directed her to invest in public services (although she spent a lot more than the Legislature had in mind for fireworks and private video services).

Governor Noem is socking that money away in reserves instead of remitting it to the taxpayers or investing it in urgent needs. What could we do with $19.1 million?

  1. Send $446 to each of the 42,821 South Dakotans reported unemployed in May (the most recent figure) to bridge the gap as Congress struggles to renew coronavirus unemployment relief.
  2. Hire 371 teachers at the state’s target salary of $51,367 to help each district reduce class size and handle the extra work of coordinating online classes:
    Student Count (Fall 2019, pre-K–12) Additional Teachers
    1–200 1
    201–400 2
    401–1000 3
    1001–2500 4
    2501–5000 5
    5001+ 6
  3. Buy 8.56 million reusable transparent masks to distribute to all South Dakotans so we can crush coronavirus by the first day of fall.
  4. Buy school lunch for all 139,000 kids in the state, pre-kindergarten through grade 12, for the first two months of the school year (using Aberdeen’s just-announced AY2021 rates of $3 for elementary, $3.15 for middle school, and $3.45 for high school lunch).
  5. Hire 660 contact tracers—average ten for each county—at $4,800 a month for six month.

I invite your suggestions. I’m willing to bet that pretty much anything the blog commentariat comes up with will be better than letting this money sit in the hidden drawer in Kristi’s make-up kit.


  1. Cathy B 2020-07-17 08:19

    and expand Medicaid!

  2. grudznick 2020-07-17 10:51

    Mr. H, are you saying the Governor can just do whatever she wants with all this spilt change? Are you, from your blogging, saying she isn’t legally obligated to so something specific with it but could do anything she wanted, and then we can debate what to buy on the Mr. H Shopping Spree? That is how your blogging reads. I, my ownself, have a lot of ideas on how to spend this money.

    That kind of money could by over a million and a half decent breakfasts, with tips and gravy. That’s at least 2 breakfasts per South Dakotan. If they started a breakfast voucher program, that would add to the nutritional value and health of everybody. Golly, you might even be able to get some of that government money from the free bus grants to pick people like grudznick up at home and take us out to the breakfasts, at no charge.

    Now that would be government money at work.

  3. Sharon Vestal 2020-07-17 10:53

    How much money does SD have in its Rainy Day Fund? I feel like it is a rainy day so we should spend some of it.

  4. grudznick 2020-07-17 10:54

    Here’s a better idea. If there are 10,000 teachers in the South Dakota public schools, and we assume 100% of them would sign a binding contract to never whine again about being well paid for working 9 months of the year, we could give each of them a bonus check of nearly $2000.

    How many would sign? The fewer that sign, the bigger the bonus for the rest.

  5. grudznick 2020-07-17 11:13

    Yes, Ms. Cathy B is onto a great libbie idea!!! Expand Medicaid!

    That would be, in the normal libbie’s world, like getting a scratch ticket that paid you $500. They would scream, in Mr. Evans’ terms:


    and run right down to the car dealer and buy a fancy French car because it only has a $500 payment, this month. And next. And the next. And the next. And the next…

    grudznick says:

    French math doesn’t work in the real world.

  6. o 2020-07-17 11:21

    Wow Grudz, that’s almost Alabama-level salary you are throwing around.

    If teachers did sign those contracts, would they be more or less obligated to honor them — than the legislature is obligated to follow its own funding formula?

    By the way, how much of that $2,000 will get eaten up paying for masks/ppd, Purel, and Clorox that school boards bending to the Trump/Conservative Death Cult will not cover to keep teachers, support staff, and their students safe?

  7. grudznick 2020-07-17 11:24

    Here is another idea, building on Ms. Vestal’s questions. Take this spilt change and sock it away in the fund for rainy days, but then create a new trust that the rainy day money goes into and we take the interest earnings from it and pay for college scholarships to the School of Mines for as many kids as we can. Every year. Don’t blow it on a big covid party where everybody drinks French wine and then it’s gone, put it into this rainy interest fund to pay for scholarships to the School of Mines.

    But only for smart kids who pass the test.

  8. Alan Peterson 2020-07-17 11:32

    How about some of it used to compensate the low paid state employees who are classified as essential workers who had to go to work when others could stay home?

  9. grudznick 2020-07-17 11:35

    Yes, Mr. Peterson has a good idea too. Give big checks to the fellows who kept working. Better yet, fire those who didn’t keep working and give their money to the essential fellows.

  10. grudznick 2020-07-17 11:46

    Mr. o, the schools and fatcat administrators are buying the hand gel for the classes. Teachers have no more extra need for masks than do any other workers or waitresses. We’re not taking this spilt change and giving it to waitresses, now, are we? We are talking about giving it ONLY to the teachers, just like how ONLY the teachers get raises from the penny tax. Waitresses don’t get raises from the penny tax.

    The spilt change bonus to the teachers is to pay them to please stop whining. I’d even amend my idea to give the teachers on the higher end of the SILT Scale bigger amounts than the teachers on the lower end of the SILT Scale, if that would appease your mind.

  11. grudznick 2020-07-17 11:48

    Mr. o, can you find a time that the legislatures have not followed the law? They have lobbists who make them toe the lines.

    Please give us the year and amount and law that wasn’t followed. Don’t just whine.

  12. grudznick 2020-07-17 12:09

    grudznick has another idea:

    What if we take the spilt change and buy up some land. Some nice land. And we give it to the Parks Department to make it into fishing and shooting land. People could catch fishes and shoot the varmits all day long on this land. It wouldn’t cost anything to keep it up because we wouldn’t mow it and it would just sit there and we wouldn’t pay taxes on it. But we buy the land so the people could use it. There is a piece of land right next to Pe Sla/Reynold’s Prairie that is for sale that fits this billing

  13. grudznick 2020-07-17 12:13

    grudznick has another idea that Mr. H might like:

    Was there not a train line that Mr. H wanted to ride his scooter across through the Badlands? Let us buy up the train line and make a path that all people could use. We would have to mow this land but it would be cheap and people would volunteer to do the mowing so citizens didn’t have to pay for it. Teachers could ride scooters on it too and maybe we could have them take kids along to learn things and mow the grass as they go.

  14. Buckobear 2020-07-17 12:20

    Hold it. Last year’s “surplus” was 19.4 million.
    This year’s is 19.1 million.
    Seems to me that we spent .3 million of last year’s surplus.
    What am I missing here??

  15. bearcreekbat 2020-07-17 12:21

    grud’s question to o:

    can you find a time that the legislatures have not followed the law

    has been answered multiple times right here on DFP, of which grud purports to be a reader. With apologies to o, let me offer just one recent example:

    Unfortunately, our State too often elects senators and/or representatives hell bent on violating the law and every once in awhile some of these scofflaws succeed in convincing the “legislatures” to pass, and the governor to sign, acts that fail to follow the law.

  16. grudznick 2020-07-17 14:13

    What year and what law, Mr. bat? The lobbists would never let people get away with breaking the laws.

  17. grudznick 2020-07-17 14:16

    grudznick has another idea:

    19,100,000 sausages can feed a lot of people. We need to get grocers lined up to provide a ton of meat at $1 per link. They will make money, and we can feed a lot of hungry fellows. This could keep the Smithfields in operation and help pay for a lot of money to the people who work there and feed their kids too.

    We just need somewhere to store the sausages. Refrigerated containers preferred. Who will step up to provide that?

  18. bearcreekbat 2020-07-17 14:34

    Read Cory’s story Grud. It tells you the year (2019) and the law (2019 House Bill 1094), as you undoubtedly already know. nuff said.

  19. leslie 2020-07-17 16:49

    Cory, were grdz the racist-doxxer’s multiple trolls today subject to “awaiting moderation”?

    May as well read FB. More fireworks for 19M. We surely paid that much for Trump’s campaign rally Kristi gave away.

  20. grudznick 2020-07-17 22:03

    There’s another great idea. Can you imagine how nice of a fireworks show $19.1 million dollars could put on at Mount Rushmore? They might need to move it to the top of Black Elk Peak.

  21. Curt 2020-07-17 23:03

    Crap. Grudznick’s been drinking again.

  22. Debbo 2020-07-18 01:16

    I think hiring the extra teachers is an excellent idea.

    It could go to outfitting empty big box stores, malls, arenas and similar spaces as classrooms that allow for adequate spacing.

    It could be used to build those small, 3 sided plexiglass enclosures for student desksthat they use in South Korea and Hong Kong to limit exposure. They look pretty cheap to create so there might be $ left over to improve classroom ventilation systems.

    There is really no excuse at all for Kruel Kristi to keep that $ from being used in this emergency situation. The teacher’s union, school board group and parents groups ought to be pressuring her about that.

  23. Jake 2020-07-18 08:11

    Grudzie-and you are part of the ‘welfare for the rich’ tax break that potass Trump got for the high incomes!! Talk about ‘whiners’–you are a siren!

  24. jerry 2020-07-18 12:22

    How many teachers, schools, roads, bridges and rail systems could each of these boondoggle Navy ships build? The Littoral Combat Ship, all 32 of these worthless overruns (Senator John McCain) floating deathtraps, and now, they will be replaced by something that will cost even more and for what? Who we going to war with? Certainly not China we have not “won” a war since World War II. The only war we have ever won was the one that convinces taxpayers to give up their freedoms and their futures on war toys that fail to do their jobs.

    “The Navy budgeted $490 million for each ship while the Congressional Budget Office projected a cost of $591 million for each ship. Navy acquisition chief Sean Stackley testified to a Senate panel that the actual price range was $440 to $460 million.”

    We starve ourselves of progress, knowledge and infrastructure while these guys squander our future on war toys that will not take a BB round.

  25. T 2020-07-18 15:51

    The roads are in very poor shape, bridges need attention……..

  26. jerry 2020-07-21 18:48

    Surplus? Not even. Unemployment Insurance is gonna eat that up like a corn dog at the fair.

    “More than $238 million in unemployment assistance has been paid out to South Dakotans since March 16, when the first pandemic-related unemployment claims hit the state.

    According to the Department of Labor and Regulation, the state alone has paid out $63.9 million in unemployment benefits since March 16. The latest data shows that federal assistance has paid out more than three times that amount.” Rapid City Journal 7.21.20

    Be glad that you don’t own a business with employees. Yikes!!

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