The state budget went out with a whimper instead of a bang. Stimulus money rendered most of the exciting debates moot, as once again, Washington's largesse spared South Dakotans from making hard choices.
Even with Washington's help, the budget still made some significant cuts. State employees get no raise (more beans and wienies for Madville Times Jr.). More bothersome, though, is the Legislature's persistence in cutting education. They still found the normal 3% increase for K-12, but they cut the Board of Regents budget by $1.2 million. My neighbor and legislator Rep. Gerry Lange (D-8/Madison) tells me that means a $76K cut here at DSU. (Proportionally, that looks to me like we're making out locally like bandits!)
The Dems mustered their protest votes against the budget in part because of these education cuts. They have a point: with unemployment rising, more workers need retraining. More students will seek more education to equip themselves for a wider range of jobs than they can qualify for now. Our universities and tech schools could easily see enrollment increases in the coming couple semesters. Why hamstring some of our best engines of economic growth just when we need them most?
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