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Comparing Legislative Processes - S.D. vs. D.C.

Governor Dennis Daugaard compares the way the U.S. Government is run compared to South Dakota.  (KELO AM file)
Governor Dennis Daugaard compares the way the U.S. Government is run compared to South Dakota. (KELO AM file)

A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Pierre, S.D. (KELO AM) - The shutdown has come to an end and the federal government is up and operating again. The result: Congress has kicked the can down the road, putting any serious budget discussions off until next year. This leaves us with an unimproved fiscal situation.

In South Dakota, we pay our bills, and we don’t spend money we don’t have. Thanks in part to our legislative process, our state Legislature is much more effective and efficient than Congress. 

In South Dakota, we have a balanced budget requirement. Congress has no limit to what it can spend and the federal government is not required to operate in the black. Our Legislature convenes for 40 days out of the year. Congress can convene as often it wants – making it tempting for U.S. senators and representatives to over-legislate and overspend. We also have term limits for our state legislators.

In our state, the Governor has the authority to line-item veto appropriations. The Governor can veto one or more lines of the appropriation bill without vetoing the entire bill. Those particular items of appropriation cannot be spent unless two-thirds of the House and Senate override the line-item spending veto. Even the mere existence of that power holds down spending at the state level.

Our state constitution also forbids attaching any policy law changes to an appropriation. The constitution says it this way: “The general appropriation bill shall embrace nothing but appropriations...” Special appropriations must follow that same rule. Congress, on the other hand, passes bills on multiple subjects that are filled with pork. A primary way to pass more spending in Congress is to attach the extra spending to a bill that most people already agree must be passed.

I am disappointed that Congress has not done anything serious to address our rising levels of debt and that many of the politicians in Washington continue to pretend there are no consequences to reckless spending. But I am also thankful that in our state we have a process that works and a responsible Legislature. Things may be broken in D.C., but they aren’t in South Dakota.

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