Governor Dennis Daugaard and other leading South Dakota Republicans do not trust the federal government's ability to sustain funding enough to expand Medicaid.
They do, however, trust the federal government enough to fund 41.5% of state functions:
A report released this week by the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan research think tank based in Washington, D.C., said 41.5 percent of South Dakota's general fund dollars in Fiscal Year 2012 came from federal transfers — the third highest percentage of all states in the country.
In FY 2015, that percentage is slightly lower at 39.6 percent, said Gov. Dennis Daugaard's budget chief, Jason Dilges [Steve Young, "South Dakota Ranks High for Federal Financial Support," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.05.16].
Pardon me: 39.6%.
Being a large, rural state with a sparse population means depending on federal support is almost unavoidable. But Joy Smolnisky of the South Dakota Budget and Policy Project says we also make choices that increase our dependence on Uncle Sam:
"Don't let the stand-alone fact that we get a higher percentage of federal money than other states do suggest something else," she said. "No, we just collect less from ourselves."
Dilges doesn't disagree. "The policy makers in our state have decided we want to keep taxes lower for our citizens," he said. "As a result, we try to get as much federal participation as we can" [Young, 2014.05.16].
Suppose a woman on the street said, I choose to work fewer hours at McDonald's, so I'm going to apply for more food stamps. We'd take offense, right? We'd shout about the need for responsibility and self-reliance, right?
Well, didn't he Governor's budget chief just say the same thing? We choose to spend less of our own wealth on our needs, so we try to get more federal assistance.
If Republicans are going to keep telling us that government budgets work like family budgets, when will South Dakota Republicans start applying the same kitchen-table responsibility they preach to working folks to our own state budget decisions?