Noem Proposes Big Salary Raises, Over $1B In Projects

     South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem presented her budget message to the Legislature Tuesday

It’s a plan to spend an unprecedented amount of money in raises for state employees, teachers and health care providers as well more than $1-billion dollars in infrastructure projects

      Noem said her plan takes advantage of strong state tax revenue, but makes scant mention of the federal COVID relief and infrastructure funds South Dakota has or will receive. 

     She wants to put 14% of the money into the state savings account, warning of coming national economic woes from the policies of President Biden and the Democrats, but Democratic State Senator Reynold Nesiba says Noem should be thanking Biden for the federal money that makes much of her plan possible.

     A key part of the plan is a $600-million dollar Workforce Housing grant program using a one-time $150-million dollar infusion of state general funds, $50-million in federal funds for sewer infrastructure tied to workforce housing projects, and a $200-million match from both local municipalities and developers.

      Noem wants a 6% pay raise for state workers, a 6% hike for healthcare providers, and a 6% increase in school aid that local districts would use entirely for raises for teachers and other staffers. She said pay in those 3 areas are generally not keeping pace with wages for similar jobs in the private sector or other areas.

      Other proposals include $100-million in grants for startup and one-time costs for new child-care facilities, $30-million for a new cybersecurity program at Dakota State University, $17-million to enhance workforce training at the 4 technical colleges, abd $28-million for a corrections Community Work Center for Women in Rapid City

     There’s also $35-million for tourism advertising, $10-million for 175 campsites at Custer State Park, $5-million for courthouse security, and $15-million to build regional behavioral health centers like the one now under construction in Pennington County.

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