Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rounds wrong on fiscal policies

Like this is news. But it's worse than we thought. From the Democratic Legislative Caucus:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- December 30, 2008

Heidepriem and Hunhoff call for new focus in Pierre

PIERRE – Democratic legislative leaders say Gov. Mike Rounds’ fiscal policies in good and bad economic years have created a crisis which requires a new focus on cutting state government and creating new jobs.

“An analysis of the Rounds years reveals a shell game has been played to manipulate a false perception that budgets have been conservative and our economy has grown. The reality is the state bureaucracy has bloated and the personal property tax replacement fund has been drained to finance the bloat,” Sen. Scott Heidepriem, D-Sioux Falls, the Democratic state senate leader said. “Today, South Dakota is in a weak position to weather a recession made worse by energy costs, job losses, housing devaluations, stock market failures and the credit crisis. Our focus is to put the state in a better position and on a more responsible path.”

Heidepriem, D-Sioux Falls, and Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, D-Yankton, pointed to a recent news analysis of how Rounds has depleted the personal property tax relief fund to balance budgets and to charts showing rapid growth in state employee positions since Rounds took office. Heidepriem said that in 2002, Rounds promised he would reduce property taxes and reduce the dependence of public school funding on property taxes. Instead, Rounds is now seeking a $6.3 million increase in property taxes while pulling another $25.7 million from the PTRF to pay for his budget proposal. Rounds also proposed 77 new fulltime state employee positions in the new budget. Heidepriem and Hunhoff said Democrats will again offer a limit on state spending.

“In each of the last two legislative sessions, Democrats have sought a limit on state spending to 3 percent or the rate of inflation, which is the same standard Gov. Rounds holds over school districts, and the Republicans have defeated it each time. We are going to try again this year and we believe we will have some Republican support,” Heidepriem said. “The Rounds budgets have increased state employee numbers on the back of K-12 education funding, and that puts the burden on property taxpayers. Something has to give and it shouldn’t be the property taxpayers giving again.

“We need a long term budgetary solution. We need to stop thinking that yesterday’s priorities are right for tomorrow. We need smarter government, not bigger government, and we begin with zero-based budgeting to control the bloating.”

Hunhoff said Democrats can find bi-partisan support for the following methods to control bloated spending:

* A real freeze on state employee positions that requires any additions be matched by equal reductions elsewhere in government.
* Limit state spending to no more than 3 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
* Implement zero-based budgeting which allows the legislature to work with the executive branch to analyze and reduce state spending.
* Outlaw “pay to play” policies which appear to reward cronies with no-bid contracts.
* Take steps to put South Dakota communities into the best position to take advantage of President-elect Barack Obama’s major jobs and economic recovery package to encourage wind-energy development and launch new community-based wind energy projects.
* Limit the growth of the highest paid state employee positions to make sure compensation is not excessive considering the current economic crisis.

“These are common sense steps that have little to do with party ideology and everything to do with being responsible stewards of the public’s tax dollars,” Hunhoff said. “Our approach is a two-step strategy to cut state spending, which lowers the pressure on property taxpayers, and to set the stage for new jobs and economic growth that pays the bills and offers hope to families and businesses.

“The best relief from this economy is to grow our way out of it and to avoid further burdening taxpayers.”

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

[PenDems (129)] Local officials present with Governor rounds tomorrow

The Rapid City Chamber of Commerce presents local officials
and Gov Rounds in a discussion of next year's legislative session.

Where: LaCroix Hall, Rushmore Plaza Civic Center
When: Tomorrow (Wednesday Dec 3)
10:00 Local officials, questions
11:45 Luncheon with Governor

The event is free and open to the public.

More details here:

Gov Rounds in Rapid City tomorrow


The Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee will hold the annual pre-Legislative Crackerbarrel and Joint Service Club Luncheon on Wednesday, December 3rd in LaCroix Hall, Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The session will begin at 10am with a series of three brief presentations by Rapid City Mayor, Alan Hanks; Rapid City School Board President, Sheryl Kirkeby; and Pennington County Commissioner Ethan Schmidt on their respective priorities for the 2009 Legislature. Following their presentations, Rapid City Area Legislators will be presenting issues and ideas on the upcoming Legislative session beginning on January 13th. A Question and Answer session will follow their presentations. The crackerbarrel is free and open to the public.

Governor Rounds will speak at the luncheon which begins at 11:45 A.M. Reservations are required and the cost of the luncheon is $22 for Chamber members and members of area service clubs. The cost for non-members is $27.

The event is sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank, Rapid City Regional Hospital, FourFront Design, Inc. National American University, H&R Block and Gary Brown.

Reservations are required for the luncheon and Governor’s address and may be made by calling the Chamber at 718-8480 or by e-mail at no later than noon on Monday, December 1st.