The $1.5 million in additional funding that Governor Kristi Noem alleges killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has finagled from the legislators in an “unprecedented” closed-door meeting remains unclear. But if appropriators and the A.G. did cut any secret deal, it appears they allocated the additional money hire more state cops and raise cop pay.
Governor Noem alleges that “legislative appropriators” granted Ravnsborg a secret meeting on Tuesday and that “they are suddenly giving him an extra $1.5 million without any public hearing.”
Neither the House Appropriations Committee nor Senate Appropriations Committee has met to conduct any substantive business this week. Joint Appropriations met on Tuesday, March 8, but the minutes do not mention any motion to go into executive session and no discussion of any budget items relating to the Attorney General. The Wednesday, March 9 minutes of Joint Appropriations show approval of budgets for Criminal Justice Services, Legal Services Program, Law Enforcement Training, 911 Training, Insurance Fraud Unit, and Criminal Investigation.
The budget motion sheets dated yesterday for Joint Appropriations’ recommendation for the FY2023 budget show total proposed increases to the AG’s budget of $2,047,473, $971,374 less than the $3,018,847 the AG requested but $1,367,014 more than the Governor proposed.
- Notion Sheet G2900A, the Legal Services Program item, shows JCA appropriating $9,688,473, $172,126 more than the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriation but $81,793 less than the Attorney General requested and the same amount that the Governor recommended. The difference is the rejection of addition requested FTEs.
- Motion Sheet G2912A, the Law Enforcement Training item, shows JCA appropriating $2,879,630, the same amount as last year, $93,123 less than the AG requested, and the same as the Governor recommended. The difference is the committee’s rejection of cash for a replacement schedule for the Mickelson Criminal Justice Center.
- Motion Sheet G2913A shows JCA approving $245,544 for 911 Training, the same as last year and the same as the AG and the Governor requested.
- Motion Sheet G2915A shows JCA approving $295,554 for the Insurance Fraud Unit, the same as last year and the AG and Governor requests.
- Motion Sheet J2911A shows JCA approving $19,165,039 for Criminal Investigation, $1,875,347 more than last year, $796,458 less than Ravnsborg requested, and $1,367,014 more than the Governor recommended.
- JCA cut Ravnsborg’s $350,000 request for annual maintenance costs on computerized criminal history.
- JCA gave the $434,259 that Ravnsborg requested but Noem denied to raise DCI pay.
- JCA added $545,775 for DCI agents that neither Ravnsborg nor Noem originally requested
- JCA added $218,310 for digital evidence unit agents that neither the AG nor the Governor originally requested.
- JCA doubled the appropriations for a general crime analyst ($167,644) and the missing and murdered indigenous person specialist ($169,696) compared to to what Ravnsborg and Noem requested.
Joint Appropriations struck a compromise between the AG’s high request and the Governor’s low request, giving the AG about six tenths of what the Governor would have cut. The $1.37 million above the Governor’s request appears to consist entirely of funding to hire more law enforcement officers and raise their pay.
That’s not $1.5 million, and that’s money that appears to be spent on one of Governor Noem’s priorities.
Joint Appropriations has on its agenda today Senate Bill 60, the revision of this year’s budget. No potential amendments are listed yet for SB 60; as originally proposed on January 6, the budget adjustments give the AG $747,400 more than appropriated last year. Let’s keep an eye on that bill for the remaining $130K that Noem’s tweet seems to indicate is on its way to Ravnsborg’s budget thanks to a supposed secret meeting.