The last couple pages of the Legislative Research Council's 2014 Statistical Comparison offer a summary of the funds appropriated by the South Dakota Legislature every year since statehood. The 1890 Legislature appropriated $438,708 to the general fund. In the coming fiscal year, our general fund has $1.389 billion dollars, 3,166 times the amount of money our founders gave Governor Mellette to spend.
Of course, we have much more than $1.389 billion in government money coursing through our state veins. The general fund makes up just under a third of the total FY2015 state budget of $4.259 billion. 27.8% of that spending comes from other fees and licenses, while 39.6% comes from Uncle Sam.
The 2014 Statistical Comparison starts breaking down the budget by general, other, and federal funds in 1978. South Dakota's total budget that year was $457 million. In FY2015, South Dakota government will spend 9.3 times that amount.
Now let's compare that growth to what's happened in Washington. Crunching numbers from USGovernmentSpending.com, I find that federal spending in FY1978 was $458 billion. Federal spending in FY2015 is projected to be $3.9 trillion. Over the period that South Dakota's government spending has increased by a factor of 9.3, federal spending has increased by a factor of 8.5.
Or let's compare annual growth. Since 1978, South Dakota's total state budget has grown at an average of 6.3% each year. Over the same period, the federal budget grew at an annual rate of 6.0%. South Dakota's budget grew faster than the federal budget in 25 of those years; federal budget growth outpaced our state budget growth in just 13 of those years.
Governor Dennis Daugaard and his predecessor-cum-Senate candidate Mike Rounds like to talk about how Washington ought to apply South Dakota common sense to its budget. But if South Dakota had matched federal spending patterns, our state budget would be 8.8% less than it is now.