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Lunch Money: State Will Have $375M More to Spend Than Legislature Budgeted

The Joint Appropriations Committee received the new revenue projections from the Bureau of Finance and Management this week. The projection for this fiscal year, which Joint Appropriations will use to hammer together its adjustments to the current state budget, indicate that South Dakota state government will collect $250 million more from sales tax, contractor’s excise tax, unclaimed property, and other ongoing revenue streams than the Legislature budgeted for FY2023. BFM predicts an additional $125 million in unexpected one-time moneys.

The Legislature thus has $375 million more to allocate to state agencies to burn up before June 30.

The best thing to do with unexpected cash is take a trip to Hawaii, but legislators already have that covered.

The next best thing to do with unexpected cash is invest it. The investment that leaps to mind is a school lunch fund to pay for school meals for every public K-12 student in South Dakota.

Representative Kadyn Wittman proposed having the state cover the cost of every school meal not already covered by Uncle Sam. Her House Bill 1221 would have cost $38.6 million a year, and it would have been a smart, practical investment in children’s health and education, so Republicans killed it on a 14-1 committee vote.

Throw that entire $375 million in the bank, or better yet, into the capable hands of Matt Clark and the South Dakota Investment Council. They’ve made South Dakota’s pension funds grow at an annual rate of 8.9% over the last decade, and that includes the covid stock market dip. Inflation has averaged 2.6% over the past decade, and that includes the covid/supply-chain inflation of the past couple years. Apply the SDIC return rate to the $375M of unexpected revenue, apply that inflation rate to the cost of HB 1221, and you will see that sinking the current overage in the state budget into school lunches would pay for HB 1221 through FY2044, by which time South Dakota would have had 21 years to rack up more unbudgeted windfalls to spend on Hawaii school lunch and other important public policies.

Representative Wittman, round up your friends and smoke out HB 1221. We have the money to feed every school kid in South Dakota for 21 years.


  1. Jake 2023-02-16 09:24

    If only, “Pubs” could have ‘common sense!’ (Abd do something for our kids once.

  2. Mark Anderson 2023-02-16 09:30

    Well, those pubs are making sure those wanton women become mothers. You can’t expect them to feed the kids too. It’s more important to make sure they can’t become trans. It’s bad enough that some will be groomed into becoming Democrats.

  3. larry kurtz 2023-02-16 10:22

    SDGOP: protect the unborn!
    Also SDGOP: school kids should sell their ova and plasma if they can’t buy meals.

  4. All Mammal 2023-02-16 14:31

    If it will be withheld from benefitting all SD’s booboos, give it back! I pay taxes so we can have a healthy, well-read population and drink clean water and have safe roads and neighborhoods. Not so our excellency can fly to the coasts and inflate body parts.

    By the way, correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn’t the kids get free lunches, carried over from the pandemic and Uncle Joe, if our excellency would bring herself to simply sign the contract promising not to discriminate against LGBTQ kids? Instead, didn’t she say Uncle Joe was harming girls and starving kids by stipulating she sign a non-discrimination policy?

    Pay the teachers. Open some daycares. Keep long term assisted living available. Clean the water and keep mines out. Invest in a healthy future. Bring back the one quarter, one song jukeboxes because the new age jukebox apps are destroying democracy!

  5. P. Aitch 2023-02-16 14:50

    Cory’s missed a “best option” on what to do with unbudgeted revenue. Colorado refunds the money to “we the people”. I got a nice check for $1600.00 last year AND our fully liberal legislature voted that it’s not subject to income taxes.
    Wait. Y’all live where? Give three reasons why.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-02-16 16:24

    All Mammal, no, it appears full federal funding for all student meals is no longer a universal program. The National School Lunch Program does offer a “Community Eligibility Provision” under which high-poverty school districts can qualify to put free meals for all students on the federal tab, but my brief reading says that’s not an option for all of South Dakota.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-02-16 16:35

    Indeed, there are bunches of good policies we could spend this $375M on, including handing the money back to taxpayers.

    $375M is a staggering amount of unforeseen money. Should BFM and our Appropriators get some training to plan better tax burdens and spending?

    P, you refer to the TABOR refund, right? It seems a reasonable measure to prevent the Legislature from getting “mad money” toward the end of a fiscal year that it may dump into policies that wouldn’t have survived more normal, rigorous budget scrutiny.

    Colorado’s refund goes to individuals who file state income tax, so South Dakota would have to think of an alternate disbursement method. If the state wrote checks to every South Dakota man, woman, and child (including those RV voters?), every South Dakotan would get about $420.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-02-16 16:48

    But I leap at the chance to create a school lunch fund because (a) Joe Graves opposes it, (b) it’s a heck of a good educational and moral policy, and (c) the only reason to kill Rep. Wittman’s HB 1221 in the first place was the lack of money, which the Legislature’s underguess completely erases for two decades.

    Creating a state school lunch fund would be a memorable innovation and investment in a whole generation of young people. By itself, the school lunch fund could make a Governor’s legacy, like Janklow’s bringing Citibank to Sioux Falls but without the moral stain of usury. Noem has created no lasting institution or policy of ongoing benefit to all South Dakotans; this is her chance.

  9. P. Aitch 2023-02-16 18:04

    @Cory – Is $420 a real number or a prediction of where the money would mostly be spent? #grins

  10. grudznick 2023-02-16 18:35

    grudznick is always leery of the math numbers spat about like sunflower seed husks by a little league baseball team chanting in the dugout of your local city park. I doubt the interpretation of any of these numbers is accurate, and put my money on Mr. Schoenbeck to sort it all out. I think we should get more than $420. Give older people more than young’uns, so we can pay our sales tax on the foods.

  11. O 2023-02-16 18:39

    Cory shows the rub in tax relief. When the 1/2 penny sales tax came into being, it had to also provide property tax relief to be palatable for passage. NOBODY remembers any real effect from that relief ($35M if I remember correctly). When it is figures out across a total population it becomes meaningless. $375M can do a LOT of good; $420.00 per person for the most part (not meaning to demean those who are truly scraping to make ends meet) will not. Part of me fears that would also be the legacy of MUCH of the sales tax relief on food.

  12. 96Tears 2023-02-17 09:23

    They’re feasting on Biden Bucks! Thank you President Joe Biden!

  13. Denise Williams 2023-02-19 23:42

    And with all the excess funds SD State Has, kids will still go hungry at school with the greed in Pierre saying free lunches for school kids. No Thanks. We’ll keep that money for something important to the Republican Hypocrites.

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