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Social, financial issues to be tackled

Education, Medicaid, death penalty among legislative hot buttons

Jason Ferguson
Published: Thursday, January 16th, 2014

District 30 legislators appear to be a united group when it comes to some of the key issues they will be faced with when it comes the 2014 South Dakota legislative session, including health care for the poor, educational reform and whether or not to repeal the death penalty.
It appears lawmakers will have more money available to spend than in recent years, as Gov. Dennis Daugaard has said the state has more than $100 million in one-time money to spend, including some reserves and a windfall of unclaimed bank accounts and other property receipts. 
Among the possibilities discussed for the money is paying off debt and other obligations which would free up ongoing revenue to give a 3 percent increase in state aid to school districts, reimbursements to health care providers in the Medicaid program and pay raises for state employees.
Rep. Lance Russell said he would like to see some sort of rebate to state citizens from the money, although he isn’t sure of the mechanism to do so, but said, more importantly, he doesn’t want the money to be used to grow any more government programs.
“I don’t want to build in more institutional costs into the future with the money,” he said.
Rep. Mike Verchio said he agrees with the governor’s plan for the money, although he does have some quibble with some of the details. He believes the money planned for Medicaid, education and state employee raises should be weighed more heavily toward Medicaid and education, as it will benefit more people, while another plan for some of the money—to pre-fund economic development in the state—is fine with him, so long as it does not mean the ongoing funding for economic development is not stripped away because of one-time funding.

District 30 legislators appear to be a united group when it comes to some of the key issues they will be faced with when it comes the 2014 South Dakota legislative session, including health care for the poor, educational reform and whether or not to repeal the death penalty.

It appears lawmakers will have more money available to spend than in recent years, as Gov. Dennis Daugaard has said the state has more than $100 million in one-time money to spend, including some reserves and a windfall of unclaimed bank accounts and other property receipts. 

Among the possibilities discussed for the money is paying off debt and other obligations which would free up ongoing revenue to give a 3 percent increase in state aid to school districts, reimbursements to health care providers in the Medicaid program and pay raises for state employees.

Rep. Lance Russell said he would like to see some sort of rebate to state citizens from the money, although he isn’t sure of the mechanism to do so, but said, more importantly, he doesn’t want the money to be used to grow any more government programs.

“I don’t want to build in more institutional costs into the future with the money,” he said.

Rep. Mike Verchio said he agrees with the governor’s plan for the money, although he does have some quibble with some of the details. He believes the money planned for Medicaid, education and state employee raises should be weighed more heavily toward Medicaid and education, as it will benefit more people, while another plan for some of the money—to pre-fund economic development in the state—is fine with him, so long as it does not mean the ongoing funding for economic development is not stripped away because of one-time funding.

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