Democratic leaders respond to governor’s FY 2022 South Dakota state budget address

Sioux Falls, SD (December 9, 2020) –Governor Noem outlined her spending plan for fiscal year 2022 during her annual budget address to the legislature on Tuesday. South Dakota ended the June 30, 2020 budget year with a $19.1 million surplus. She also proposed to spend one-time general fund money freed up from Covid Relief Funds leaving our appropriators with between $150 million and $200 million of one-time money to meet legislative priorities. 

“We were happy to hear the investment the Governor wants to make in broadband, meat processing, and the livestock barn at the State Fair,” said House Minority Leader Jamie Smith. “Those investments in infrastructure are important, but Democrats in Pierre will propose budget priorities that really focus on people. We need to help individuals with healthcare, housing, employment, and education. This past year has hit folks hard and we need to set goals for a future where they can enjoy health, prosperity, and safety.”

The Governor’s budget proposals also include spending $5 million to update the state airplane fleet, paying down debt, and bolstering the state’s “rainy day” fund. Noem suggests a 2% increase to the existing 10% statutory obligation of annual deposits to the state’s reserve funds. The governor also proposed creating another $50 million trust fund from left-over federal CAREs monies. 

“We saw nothing from the Governor regarding unemployment, which is crushing people in South Dakota right now,” said Senate Minority Leader Troy Heinert. “We also have the issue of uncompensated care across the state. We need to figure out how to get payments to help individuals who have received medical care for COVID. If there was ever a rainy day, this is it. We’re listening to our constituents in South Dakota who need relief and our Democratic priorities this year will be to find it for them.”

“We need 3% across the board for K-12 teachers, technical colleges, community support providers, and state employees” said State Senator and appropriator Reynold F. Nesiba. “For the last three years their rate of pay has not kept up with inflation. It’s time for these folks who have been on the front lines during this pandemic to experience real raises over and above the rate of inflation. They’ve earned it.”

“This budget is a moral document, and we need to make sure that the people of South Dakota are taken care of,” says Heinert. “We also need to make sure we’re being good stewards of our resources. Holding our state leaders accountable with those resources will be a priority for Democrats this year.”

The South Dakota State Democratic party also expressed many concerns on Noem’s proposed plan. Vice Chair Nikki Gronli responded by saying, “Governor Noem began her address in a defensive manner, attempting to convince South Dakotans that she has handled Covid-19 well. The numbers of infections and deaths in our state prove otherwise. The SDDP will also be digging deeper into the governor’s personal use of and request to purchase a newer state airplane, especially since she has spent so much time out of state on partisan tours.”

Former state legislator and SDDP Executive Director Pam Cole questioned the governor’s excessive plans to increase budget reserves. Cole remarked, ”the backfilling of 2020 expenditures and hoarding of federal funds to create yet another $50 million trust fund is a misuse and disregards the intention of these federal monies. This amount is unprecedented, unless the state sells a major asset such as a railroad or cement plant. Creating another fund that will never see the light of day will not help South Dakotans that are hurting now.”

The SDDP plans a press conference prior to the 2021 legislative session to propose alternative budgetary expenditures and priorities based on the immediate needs and long term opportunities for all South Dakotans. 

For further information, please call Pam Cole at 605-695-1996, or email at

Rep. Jamie Smith,

Sen. Troy Heinert,