The legislative session won't be starting for another month. January 12 is the first day for the 2021 legislature. However, this week the legislators, as well as anyone else who wanted to listen, heard the governor's budget address on Dec. 8. The legislature will hear more about her proposals for spending money once the session starts and we can hear the testimony and explanations about each of these items.
Her recommendations fall into one of three categories - which is true every year. Those categories are 1) revisions to the 2021 budget which was adopted last year for the July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 fiscal year; 2) a budget for the 2022 fiscal year which would be July 1, 2021 to June 30 2022; and 3) special appropriations. There is a lot of information contained in her budget request which is a total of 330 pages and a summary of her budget request which is 57 pages long.
Whether the legislature will go along with her proposals or not remains to be seen. Generally the legislature has felt that state revenues will be greater than the governor's projections but we will have to see what happens to the economy between now and late February of 2021 when the legislature will be working on the budget. In either case we are bound by the South Dakota Constitution, Article XII, section 7 which requires that: "The Governor shall propose a budget in which expenditures or appropriations may not exceed anticipated revenue and existing funds available for expenditure or appropriation. Appropriations by the Legislature may not exceed anticipated revenue and existing funds available for expenditure or appropriation."
1) Revisions to the 2021 budget. Most of these revisions are the result of money which was appropriated by the legislature last year but which was not spent. The biggest areas are $12 million appropriated for personal services at the Human Services Center which was not spent, $20 million appropriated for correctional officers and parole agents that was never spent and $80 million which was appropriated for Medicaid but which it is anticipated will not be spent.
The governor is recommending that some of this money be spent as follows: $8.3 million for Regional Crisis Diversion Centers, $5 million for a new state owned airplane, $3.3 million for equipment for the four technical colleges, $2.4 million for an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, $2.4 million to expand the state radio coverage in the Black Hills area, and $1.5 million for an Educator Certification Website.
2) A budget for the 2022 fiscal year. The governor has proposed a budget for FY2022 which totals nearly $1.8 billion dollars. The big areas are State aid for education - $601 million (up $19 million from last year); Department of Corrections - $111 million (down $222 thousand from the prior year); Human Services - $188 million (up $9 million from the prior year), Board of Regents - $231 million (up $3.5 million from the prior years) and Social Services - $431 million (up $12.3 million from the prior year). The majority of the state budget goes to these 5 areas which total $1.56 billion or 87% of our entire state budget.
3) Special appropriations. The third category which the governor dealt with in her budget address is special appropriations totaling $186 million. I will try and talk more about them in a future column.