- Yes: 5 (8%)
- No, spend more: 30 (54%)
- No, spend less: 21 (38%)
- The anti-Rounds line: More than 90% of South Dakotans think Governor Rounds has failed to submit a budget that meets the needs of South Dakota.
- The pro-Rounds line: When nobody's satisfied, you've obviously found the perfect compromise.
- The Tea Party line: Nearly a majority of South Dakotans agree that we shouldn't have bigger government! We're on the way to victory!
Now maybe I should go easy on the Governor. I appreciate the point Governor Rounds made in his budget address that his proposed budget gets us through another year of recession with our budget reserves intact.
The problem is, that's about the only gift he's leaving the next governor and the 2011 Legislature. The proposed budget is an act of abdication, not leadership. Governor Rounds offers no new ideas or significant changes in how the state does business that might lay the groundwork for a lasting local solution to the big budget shortfall we face after we've spent all the federal stimulus dollars. (Boy, for all his erstwhile grandstanding, Governor Rounds sure seems glad to have Uncle Sam bailing out two budgets in a row.) His plan is all increasing one big tax (freeze the levy instead of the usual reduction that offsets increased valuation), hoping the recession will end and sales tax revenues rebound, and shifting the hard work of raising education dollars to more local boards who will have to opt out to keep pace with costs.
Even his pay freezes for state employees put the 2011 Governor and Legislature in a tighter bind. Sure, freezing pay makes some business sense, but another year of no raises makes it that much harder for the next administration to go to that trough for more budget savings.
The responsible thing to do would be to put a budget fix in place now that doesn't just get us through the recession but gives the following administration more options for meeting everyone's needs. Unfortunately, the Rounds administration appears content to dodge the bullet and let someone else make the hard choices.