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Tue Dec 8, 2020, 07:20 AM

Noem Pays Normal State Wages with Coronavirus Relief Funds, Manufactures Fake Surplus

The Bureau of Finance and Management warned legislators last summer that the coronavirus pandemic could cause South Dakota to see up to a $40-million budget shortfall:

The South Dakota budget could see revenue shortfalls between $16 million and $40 million during the next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers were briefed on Wednesday.

While Gov. Kristi Noem announced last week that the state budget that wrapped up June 30 had a $19 million surplus, revenues were bolstered in part from federal relief money for addressing the pandemic. Economic analysts warned that as federal stimulus programs expire, sales tax revenue could decrease in the coming months. The Republican governor has said that a special legislative session may be necessary to adjust the budget [Stephen Groves, “South Dakota Budget Analysts Predict Revenue Shortfalls,” AP, 2020.07.22].

But laissez rouler les bons temps—for the price of just a few hundred lives, we are in for a record-setting surplus:

It’s not unusual for the state to end the year with leftover funds that carry over to the next year’s budget. Between 2013 and 2019, South Dakota averaged an annual surplus about $16.7 million, the highest single-year amount during that time coming in 2013 when the state banked $24.2 million.

This time around, that figure could be between $150 and $200 million, and no less than $70 million, based on revenues projections from the Bureau of Finance and Management.

“It’s huge,” said Sen. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, of the pot of surplus money at the state’s disposal [Joe Sneve, “What to Do with State’s Upcoming, Record-Shattering Surplus? Noem’s Plan Yet Unknown,” that Sioux Falls paper via Aberdeen American News, both paywalled, 2020.12.06].

Read more: http://dakotafreepress.com/2020/12/06/noem-pays-normal-state-wages-with-coronavirus-relief-funds-manufactures-fake-surplus/

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