House Bill 1040 is one of the most tedious reads in the Legislative hopper. But it's probably one of the more important reads, since it tells us how far over and under our Legislature was in appropriating funds for state functions last year.
HB 1040 is the revision of the General Appropriations Act for the current fiscal year. It it 50 pages, 141 sections, and hundreds of line items amending dollar figures to reflect the actual costs of doing state business from the best guesses our legislators made last winter.
Some of the changes are minor, like the addition of $3 to operating expenses for the Board of Barber Examiners. But some of the changes are significant.
Current education spending sees some big shifts. The universities all get an extra million here, million there. (SDSU probably burned up its million installing all those air conditioners at the beginning of school last summer.) The School of Mines and Technology evidently added 27.3 more FTEs than expected; the only other campus adding payroll in the FY2014 revision is Northern, which gets 4.0 FTEs.
On the K-12 side, the state finds another $1.2 million to put toward technology in schools, but it reduces the amount spent on people (teachers, students, the whole point of schools) by $5.9 million. That's $5.9 million we could have appropriate to other necessary areas... like maybe $600 raises for each teacher in the state, or maybe an extra lunch subsidy for all those hungry kids.
Game Fish and Parks gets another $171K; the Department of Transportation gets another $1.6 million so we can all drive to the state parks.
We're spending $2.2 million more on inmate services than we expected last year. We need another $2 million to handle increased costs for inmate health care (remember, we're talking just the current budget, not the additional increases Governor Daugaard says we need for the prison system in FY 2015).
But evidently we overshot our budget estimates for everyone outside prison walls. HB 1040 cuts $15.3 million in state funding and $19.3 million in federal aid from Medicaid.
That's $15.3 million that the Governor and the Legislature locked up in the budget, then turned around to tell us we didn't have the money to undertake the Medicaid expansion.
Remember, South Dakota's annual cost to expand Medicaid from now until 2016 would be $1.5 million.
The state budget is hard to read, let alone predict. But when the Governor and Legislature are off on one line item by $15.3 million, and when that "off" causes us to miss an opportunity to expand useful programs, we need to spend less time in Pierre working on resolutions and more time in Pierre working on the budget.6 comments