News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Monday, January 26, 2009

Whose budget are you reading these days?

The revised budget for Fiscal Year 2010 presented by Gov. Rounds has produced much more heat than light. But most people would not know it, because much of the discussion is what we might call "back channel." Blogger sometimes communicate with each by e-mail, and it ain't all that pretty, either. It is better to keep your face out of the back channels.

I have still to see any kind of definitive presentation of the facts on the budget, but that is okay because the back channel has not decided what the facts are. There are discrepancies among the various versions of the budget available online.

While there are some individual programs that are scheduled to take it in the collective shorts, I have a question about whether the total figures in the budget represent a cutback. The bottom line looks as if it has been revised for Fiscal Year 2010, but it still represents an increase. To find that bottom line, click on this:

Then scroll down to where it says TOTAL STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET and then look under the line that says Expenditure Detail.

Here is what it shows:

  • Actual Expenditure for 2008: $3.133 billion
  • 2009 budgeted: $3.565 billion
  • Original 2010 recommended: $3.662 billion
  • Revised 2010 request: $3.590 billion
If you think you have digested that, then go down a few more lines to where it says Total State Government Budget again, and you will find entries that say:
  • 2009: $3.608 billion
  • 2010 original request: $3.670 billion
  • 2010 revised request: $3.599 billion [This one looks like a budget cut.]
Now some of the back channel boys saw my figures and cited different figures from a different llink. That link had the requested 2009 budget at $3.549 billion with $3.570 billion actually approved by the legislature. Go figure.

My bottom line is that the bottom line shows an overall increase, and the need to eliminate and reduce some programs does not seem justified . There is some consensus in the back channel that the revised budget does not add up. It has been suggested that someone is yelling crisis as a pretext for fiddling around with some programs that someone does not want.

The Governor of Iowa has called for a 6.5 percent cut across the board in that state's budget. So the revenue losses are experienced throughout the nation. But that does not explain the fact that the budget figures do not show a cut like is planned in Iowa.

Some of us have noted that a revision in the tax code might be called at this time. I have lived in states with income taxes, and the tax bills were much more equitable there. But I know better than to say "income tax" in South Dakota. That is like going to a mosque and yelling, "Hey, Mohammad, GFY." As it is expressed in the blogosphere.

Well, we have some luxuries in South Dakota. It gives us great choices in what budget figures we might wish to choose.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States