Maybe Steve Haugaard should start pronouncing his name to rhyme with Daugaard. Or maybe he should just start every discussion of the state budget with, “What, more saunas?!”
The Republican Representative and gubernatorial candidate from Sioux Falls is ready to play Grinch all Session against his primary opponent Kristi Noem’s extravagant budget proposal:
South Dakota has had a massive influx of federal handouts due to COVID-19 stimulus money. It’s eight times higher than a typical fiscal year’s worth of federal funding, and the largest federal handout per capita than any other state. Furthermore, the taxes we have collected as a state have increased primarily because of inflation and skyrocketing property values. As a result, I’m afraid a lot of what we heard today sounds like the Christmas wish list of a kid in a candy store. For better or worse, the legislature isn’t Santa Claus. We need to steward that money wisely, and make sure we don’t commit to massive spending projects that we won’t be able to fund forever.
…Noem’s introductory remarks about fiscal responsibility to the taxpayers of our state were a bit rich considering her pattern of irresponsible personal spending with no accountability or transparency [Steven Haugaard, campaign press release, 2021.12.08].
It’s a scary world when Steve Haugaard and I are saying the same thing every morning. Of course, we’re not thinking the same thing: I want a South Dakota where leaders honestly acknowledge our dependence on smart federal government funding, while Haugaard wants a fiscally starved theocracy that lets corporations and/or churches oppress us.
Haugaard will have a hard time getting his Legislative colleagues not to spend the goo-gobs of money that President Joe Biden has sent us. Even in hard-right South Dakota, partisanship still bows to bricks and asphalt paid for by Uncle Sam.
But Noem’s “kid in a candy store” binge-budgeting gives Haugaard plenty to talk about on the campaign trail to rouse his GOP primary base to their conservative senses. And he can work on clever slogans and wordplay: Who guards your money? Haugaard’s your buddy!