Governor M. Michael Rounds pitched his state budget proposal yesterday for fiscal year 2011, the last such proposal of his administration (well, last, assuming he doesn't need a do-over budget as he did last time around). The new Madville Times poll (see the left sidebar!) asks what you think of it: does it spend too much, too little, or is it about right? Vote now!
I know those three poll options oversimplify the issue: there are at least as many different takes on what's good about the budget and what needs amending as there are legislators. Rep. Quinten L. Burg (D-22/Wessington Springs) floated one possible amendment yesterday on the post-game show on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He disagrees with the governor's proposal to deny all state employees pay increases for the second year in a row. Sure, inflation has actually been negative this year (though I haven't seen Raisin Bran getting any cheaper), but if the economy recovers (the way Governor Rounds is counting on in his optimistic revenue projections for next year), isn't inflation bound to bounce back? (These forecasters think so.)
Rep. Burg's prescription for hard times: some in-house redistribution. Raise the salaries of state employees making under $75K (he might have given a lower number; check around!). Pay for those increases with 2% cuts for employees making $75K to $100K and 5% cuts for the state employees making more than $100K. Burg would help the janitors and groundskeepers—and most of the professors—at DSU weather the recession by asking President Douglas Knowlton and the deans to bite a tougher bullet. The university does already provide the president with a house; might he be able to take a pay cut for the general welfare?
This plan might be an even better fit for SDSU. President David Chicoine could probably get by with a 100% cut to his $300K salary from the Board of Regents, since he can supplement his income with the $400K in benefits he gets from serving on the corporate board of Monsanto.
Does Burg have a winner here? Do state employees at the bottom of the totem pole need a pay boost? Should we ask the state's upper management to take a cut for the team?
By the way, as a graduate assistant at DSU, I'm one of the state employees in the pay category Rep. Burg is looking to help. However, I'm done with my program in summer 2010, so any such pay boost won't affect me in my current position.
Elections are the start of a two-year fight - In three weeks we’ll better know our direction, at least for the next two years, in South Dakota. The campaign for governor in 2018 is already well underwa...
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