The Republican spin machine wants you to believe that Governor Dennis Daugaard deserves credit for South Dakota's $24.4-million budget surplus because of his responsible, conservative budgeting. I simultaneously harken to the "bad dad" critique Rep. Bernie Hunhoff offered last year and remind budget hawks that we could have had a 20% larger surplus if Governor Daugaard hadn't lavished $5 million in corporate welfare on French cheesemaker Bel Brands.
Newsman David Lias reminds us that if anyone gets credit for doing some million better than our constitutionally mandated budget balance, it's regular South Dakotans, who are willing to bear such sacrifice:
In the meantime, South Dakotans, be happy with a $24.2 million surplus in the state budget. Be happy that the state’s reserve funds have reached a record high of nearly $159 million.
Your hard work, your sacrifice, your doing without, your paying more than should be required in local, highly regressive property and sales taxes and fees and tuition have made all of that possible.
Perhaps the state will see fit to dip into those reserves someday, so our efforts at providing more than ample revenue to state coffers will be rewarded with adequate funding of education and other critically important programs [David Lias, "State Taxpayers Forced to Make More Than Ample Effort," Vermillion Plain Talk, 2013.07.20].
Our taxes could have been $24.4 million lower. We could have placed four more teachers in every school district. But we chose to hide our money in Governor Daugaard's tip jar. Yay, us.