“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.
[1 Tucker 248 (N.Y. Surr., 1966)]
With a number of tax increase proposals on the table up at Pierre, one wonders whether they actually paid attention to the most notable trend in the last election: the widespread feeling that government at most levels is all too willing to meet any actual or perceived need and/or shortage with a tax increase to meet the self-defined necessity.
The Chief has a budget of his own. When there seems to be a limitation on the availability of disposable income, something’s got to change. Inevitably, what changes is the elimination of desired spending (since I don’t own a printing press like the Federal Reserve does, nor do I have the ability to arbitrarily raise income by a legislative action.
As a result, any number of additional needs, including (but not limited to) a new pickup, several fine firearms of various calibers, some much-needed improvement in the technical capabilities of my HAM radio station installation, just to name a few things. Unfortunately, the income to acquire these wonderful things doesn’t seem to be there, due to the circumstances and vicissitudes of life, so priorities come into play, and such mundane items as food, propane, electricity for example trump the new truck, etc. C’est la vie.
Far too long, the legislative branches of government at all levels have grown accustomed to the idea that the needs of the government deserve a priority in all things that they, in their infinite wisdom deem to be important (certainly things that are more important than the insignificant desires of the citizenry to presume to manage their own money. This attitude has pretty much directly led to the unspeakably obscene federal deficits and debt, as well as the near (and impending) bankruptcy of some state and local governments.
Fortunately, South Dakota is not in that sort of position yet. We have been blessed to have been spared the worst effects of the current, and, despite D.C. cheerleader propaganda to the contrary, continuing economic distress. With the national economic reality catching up to the state, the revenue stream to Pierre is down, and the legislature starts immediately moves to keep the budget in line by raising taxes, rather than cutting spending to keep a budgetary balance.
This is not to deny that budget cuts, deferred spending, or even (shudder) cancellation of wanted spending are pleasant, but when needs must, the devil drives.
South Dakota finds itself with two points of view regarding the prioritizations involved in government finance, and the underlying assumptions that often are present: like the one that assumes that the current structure and composition of governmental agencies of all types is absolutely essential to the continued existence of the state. It MUST be essential, right? Otherwise past legislatures would have never set them up the way they are, right? So shut up and smile while you pay your taxes!
Any honest observer of the last election cycle HAS to note the reaction to the assumption that government (at all levels) must continue to grow, can never be cut, and is morally entitled by legislative fiat to seize however much of the citizens’ wealth it deems necessary to accomplish their aims. In the current SD setting, there are apparently is a financial dichotomy forming between those in the legislature and elsewhere who seek to continue (to some extent at leat) spending as usual, and on the other hand the Governor.
Firstly, IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW GOOD THE STATE’S PROGRAMS, AGENCIES, ETC. (including Education at all levels) ARE…if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there, and can’t be spent. If there is a contingency fund (which there is), it should be left for some emergency need…and shouldn’t be used just to kick the legislative ball down the road for one more year…with the problem only postponed. Sort of like a sinner’s prayer: “Help me Lord to turn away from my sins, but not quite yet.” The stable, and more realistic solution is that of the governor, as reported:
Daugaard: We don’t have any money to give
Gov. Dennis Daugaard defended his proposed budget in a tour of South Dakota communities last week, saying he slashed expenses for every department because the state “can’t give money we don’t have.”
Daugaard sat down with the Enterprise last week prior to giving a speech in Brookings. The governor described in detail his plan to cover an estimated $127 million structural deficit in one year with a proposed 10 percent spending reduction throughout state government.
His budget proposal includes cuts in state aid to school districts and reimbursements to those who provide services to Medicaid patients, both of which would have a significant impact in Moody County [and elsewhere]
Daugaard says he won’t raise taxes and is opposed to using reserves for operating expenses. He’s also pledged to veto any budget this year that doesn’t eliminate the deficit.
On the other hand, legislators are talking about (so far) nine tax increase measures. Even temporary increases are problematic, since a later simple act all too often makes them permanent. With the declines in disposable income than many in the state are experiencing from inflation (check your HyVee receipts, and gasoline costs for examples), and increasing taxes (at all levels), it shouldn’t be too much to expect that the legislature would get the picture, and realize that it’s not time to be raising taxes to continue currently unaffordable spending.
“Remember that a government big enough to give you everything you want is also big enough to take away everything that you have. — Barry Goldwater