Democrats: State adds employees, leaving schools and nursing homes behind

Pierre, SD (December 5, 2012) – Democratic Appropriations committee members pointed out today that Governor Dennis Daugaard’s budget address failed to mention 107 new full-time equivalent (FTE) positions being added to the state payroll, while leaving schools and nursing homes without adequate staff after the 2011 budget cuts.

It’s another clear instance of state government taking care of itself without taking care of its residents first, said Rep. Susan Wismer (D-Britton), who sits on the House appropriations committee. “We learned yesterday that these are good times for South Dakota state government: 40 of the 131 employees cut in Pierre two years ago are being added back for some great causes: drug courts, drivers licensing, highway patrol, corrections and corrections health, parole officers, fire fighters, accountants, plus a PhD program in physics, and maintenance and repair catch-up,” said Wismer. “But those good times aren’t extending to education and Medicaid providers. There’s no catch-up provision for them, as they recover only 3% of the cuts they suffered. They are the ones still stuck with ‘the new normal.’”

Sen. Billie Sutton (D-Burke), who sits on the Senate Appropriations committee, added, “Bringing back these positions is an encouraging sign of recovery, but kids depend on schools for a quality education, and seniors depend on the nursing homes in communities across our state – we simply can’t ask them to carry on with massive budget cuts while state government uses our taxes to expand its payrolls.”

Both lawmakers emphasized the necessity of the positions, noting that the additional workload has been hard on remaining state employees, but stressed that if there’s enough funding to bring the state back to pre-recession levels, there’s enough to help schools and nursing homes get to that level as well.

“The budget is not just pages of abstract numbers and line-items; it fundamentally outlines our priorities as a state,” said Sutton.  “The question is this: do we care more about growing state government, or do we care more about investing in kids and caring for seniors?”

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