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Stalzer: Pandemic Is Reducing South Dakotans’ Income

The 5.8% statutory pay raise legislators will get in 2021 (that’s $688.40 more for each legislator, to $12,580.80 for the nine-week Session, only one week of which runs five full work days) will apparently require the Legislature to shift $61,114 from elsewhere in the budget. That shouldn’t be a problem, because in the first four months of this fiscal year, we took in $22.3 million more in sales tax and $87.8 million more in overall general fund revenues than the Legislature expected.

But the bottom of Bob Mercer’s article on this teeny-tiny Legislative budget crunch includes a sign of fiscal/pandemic pessimism from one Republican Senator:

Senator Jim Stalzer, a Sioux Falls Republican, cautioned that the 2018 law works both ways. “We probably need to be ready for a decrease next year because of COVID,” he said [Bob Mercer, “S.D. Legislators’ Salary Raise Strains Budget,” KELO-TV, updated 2020.11.17].

What? I thought Senator Stalzer’s party told us we wouldn’t hear anything more about coronavirus after the election. Locally Senator Stalzer’s party insists that our economy is “thriving” thanks to our willingness to ignore coronavirus. Now Senator Stalzer is predicting that coroanvirus will lead to a decrease next year in median household income, which serves as the basis for calculating legislator pay.

Interestingly, Senator Stalzer is not predicting that coronavirus will cause our paychecks to decrease in 2021. The Census data that determines Senator Stalzer’s 2021 Legislative paycheck is for median household income in 2019, before the pandemic. Senator Stalzer thus appears to be predicting that next year, when the Census provides the data for 2020, we will learn that our economy is not thriving this year, that South Dakotans are making less money during the pandemic.

Expect Senator Stalzer to get a nastygram from the Second Floor for getting off message. Everything is fine, Jim! South Dakotans are better off than ever! Don’t you dare suggest otherwise!


  1. james 2020-11-19 06:54

    The New York Times has an article this morning titled: States That Imposed Few Restrictions Now Have the Worst Outbreaks

    They have a chart that graphs the states virus cases, hospitalizations…. measured against their level of containment measures. I couldn’t find South Dakota. North Dakota was high but where was South Dakota?

    Found it. It was under the heading. It was so high on the chart that it was actually under the heading.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-11-19 07:24

    Thanks, James! That NYT analysis deserves its own blog post.

    It will be very interesting next year to plot those coronavirus curves and response levels to the income levels for each state.

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