Governor Kristi Noem says that the record 85.9-million-dollar budget surplus South Dakota incurred in Fiscal Year 2021 happened “Because of our respect for freedom and our continued emphasis on fiscal responsibility….” This claim is false. She is able to sock $85.9 million away because, as the state’s own economist explained back in January, wind power companies built lots of turbines in South Dakota (a lucky surge that isn’t repeating for this fiscal year) and the federal government sent us $11.08 billion in coronavirus relief checks, including the sixth-most assistance per capita from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, despite our state’s appalling unwillingness to face facts and fight coronavirus. Our “freedom” didn’t get us to our surplus; green power and a generous federal government did.
The surplus also arises from the Noem Administration’s once again taxing us more than necessary and not spending the funds we said we wanted spent on public goods and services. California at least has the decency to send some of its surplus back to the taxpayers so they can exercise their freedom, but here, Governor Gone keeps it all for herself.
The surplus is so big that Governor Noem had to skirt the law capping the state’s main budget reserve and stick those millions in a second account. Hey, school boards! On the off chance that you have extra tax dollars at the end of the year and want to save that money for next year, how many of you get to evade the state’s caps on your reserves by sticking the money in a separate account?