Wiik: Legislators getting back to work

Legislative report

It seems like just yesterday we left at 3 a.m. just ahead of a pending snowstorm to get home from Pierre, and now it’s time to get back to work.  Monday, January 13, starts the work for the Joint Committee on Appropriations and ends the interim work on Government Operations and Audit Committee, the two committees on which I serve.  

Tuesday, I hand the gavel to the House Appropriations Chair, and end the duties as lead co-chair of the state’s Legislative Finance Committee. I’ll still be up front, ready to assist in any way, and to chair the Senate Committee on Appropriations as necessary. It’s been an incredible honor and privilege to represent District 4 and the people of South Dakota as the lead co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Appropriations, and I know that we have unique challenges ahead of us this year.

You’ve probably heard that the federal government has changed the law, and we as a state or local government are no longer allowed to charge sales tax on internet access. This means that once July 1 rolls around, as we’re getting ready to enjoy the fireworks at Mount Rushmore again for the first time in a decade, we should see a slight decrease in your bill for how you reach the internet. Your cable, satellite, cell phone or direct internet provider bill will be just a little smaller and depending on how that is calculated, the State of South Dakota should see $20 million in less revenue. We knew it was coming, and the way the budget is put together, there was no way to soften the blow to the state.  

We can’t use one-time money to pay ongoing expenses, so we press forward. The bright side, as I’ve said from the beginning is that including the local sales tax portion, up to $30 million will come back into your pockets. I always believed that you are more capable to spend your own money than any government ever will be, so no matter how many meetings we have, or how many hours we debate over how to spend your tax dollars, the best decisions are the ones you make for yourselves.

The governor has put forth a budget plan that is conservative, fiscally sound, and balanced. With the reductions in revenue, she left schools, state employees, and care providers with 0 percent increases. We will get to work to see if we can provide something better than 0, and even though we’ve had some good months this year, we face many challenges in South Dakota, and our agriculture producers are still hurting. Until our ag economy turns around, we will all feel their pain.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in Pierre as your District 4 senator. 

You may follow all Legislation at www.sdlegislature.gov. You may listen to committees and watch House and Senate Floor activity live at www.sd.net. 

If you wish to contact me directly, email is best at [email protected]