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South Dakota Budget Surplus Comes from Wind and Federal Aid, Not “Freedom”

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?

South Dakota’s budget surpluses over the past decade have ranged between $7.9 million and $47.8 million.


  1. SuFu Matt 2021-07-21

    Meanwhile in the land of milk and honey, the state employee retirement plan was changed to lower compensation, state health insurance was gutted, apparently DOC workers are wearing hand-me-downs, and teachers…

  2. Loren 2021-07-21

    Bet you could buy Donald’s used 757 and attend rallies in style with that kind o’ dough, eh? Come on, Kristi, you know you want it! ;-)

  3. Ryan 2021-07-21

    i’m in a real pickle here because i love the city of sioux falls but holy moly idiots like noem and the people who believe what she says make it incredibly difficult to stay here and just hope they won’t pull our livelihoods out from under us with their incompetence, greed, and partisanship.

  4. Whitless 2021-07-21

    South Dakota’s nearly 86 million dollar budget surplus is small potatoes compared to Minnesota’s projected budget surplus of 1.8 billion. While a significant distinction exists between an actual surplus and a projected surplus, Minnesota’s state economists are not picking that number out of thin air. In passing a budget based on the projected surplus, Minnesota legislative leaders and the governor obviously agreed that the projected surplus is based upon realistic economic models. Perhaps more importantly, Minnesota’s leadership has the integrity to admit that the bulk of the projected surplus comes from one-time money unlike KN. KN’s claim that freedom played a significant role in creating a surplus doesn’t hold up. Minnesota took significant measures to protect its citizens from COVID, and its economy has roared back at a level that far surpasses South Dakota. Perhaps South Dakota would be in even better economic condition if KN had been more aggressive in protecting the citizens of South Dakota rather than putting her political interests first.

  5. John Dale 2021-07-21

    Don’t California my South Dakota.

    The question is .. what was this money invested in?

    I know.


  6. Ryan 2021-07-21

    Don’t Parler my favorite blog, John Q. JFK Junior is really dead, and what you don’t know would fill the airplane hangar left empty after his untimely but self-caused death. You know what I’m talking about.

  7. Arlo Blundt 2021-07-21

    The surplus should be applied to teacher’s salaries and to assist with school construction projects. Drug rehabilitation and prison reform could also be recipients if we want some real impact from this windfall.

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