PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) – Without much controversy, the South Dakota Legislature finished the people’s business early this Thursday, passing a nearly $8 billion state government funding bill.
In a session that occasionally found itself embroiled over some members’ actions and words, the 37th Legislative Day ended with leaders from both parties speaking civilly–and glowingly–about the process and each other.
Sometimes, the end of the main portion of the session runs late into the night with plenty of impatience for fellow legislators.
But not the end of the 98th Legislative Session.
In passing the budget bill, SB 210, the state is:
- Providing 7% more for K-12 and technical education.
- A tuition freeze at state universities and technical schools.
- A 7% increase in teacher pay.
- A 5% raise for health care providers.
- 100% reimbursement for community-based Medicaid providers and;
- A 7% pay increase for state employees.
The increased funding was accomplished while the legislature passed a sales tax decrease that will save taxpayers $104 million annually for the next four years.
“Everyone here is a contributor to the budget,” said Democratic Rep. Linda Duba from Sioux Falls, a member of the Joint Appropriations Committee. “This is the most phenomenal budget in my five years here.”
After thanking his Republican leadership team–and the seven Democrats in the 70-member chamber–Republican House Majority Leader Will Mortenson said the body did great work.
“We have delivered a product the people of South Dakota will be proud of,” Rep. Mortenson said.
Now, the budget and the tax cut bills are in the hands of Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.
Legislators return for the 38th and final day–Veto Day–on March 27.