I have a three-point plan for South Dakota to invest in schools, roads, and natural resources instead of the failed voo-Daugaard-onomics of the last four years. Finding money for teacher pay, road repairs, environmental protection, and parks may sound like a fiscal moonshot, but Bob Mercer notes that Bill Janklow managed a moonshot during his third and fourth terms:
Twenty winters ago, Gov.-elect Bill Janklow pushed forward on his campaign promise to roll back property taxes by 30 percent from their 1994 levels.
Janklow and the Legislature delivered the first $80 million during his first year in office.
They needed the better part of his next seven years in office to find, here and there, the final $40 million [Bob Mercer, "Could We Find $120M a Second Time?" Aberdeen American News, 2014.12.06].
$120 million—funny that Bob would pick a historical figure that just happens to fit with some estimates of the EB-5 money Joop Bollen diverted from state coffers.
Mercer suggests we find our inner Janklow and apply some moonshot thinking to the almost universally recognized problem of low teacher pay. Mercer suggests we start by sending the surpluses from the K-12 state aid budget ($5.9 million last year, $6.9 million this year) straight to teachers as bonus checks instead of redirecting those surpluses to other general fund lines.
Governor Dennis Daugaard found $127 million in cuts when he wanted them (although it turned out he could have satisfied his goal of eliminating the Rounds deficit with just $55 million in cuts). Can he find $120 million to solve problems that his austerity has made worse?
Related: John Tsitrian can find five times the Mercer/Janklow amount in South Dakota's $600 million in sales tax exemptions.