Pierre, S.D. (Sep 8, 2022) – Governor Kristi Noem recently announced a $115.5 million state budget surplus, and today the South Dakota Freedom Caucus responded to that announcement in a public statement calling on Governor Noem to give the money back to the citizens.
“South Dakota has nearly a half a billion dollars in reserves,” said Freedom Caucus Representative Tina Mulally, who also serves on the House Appropriations Committee, “and this is not the time for the state to be hording money when people are struggling to fill up their gas tanks or buy groceries.”
The $115.5 million surplus was transferred into the state budget reserves, which now totals $422.6 million dollars.
Governor Noem claimed in a recent press release that the large reserves are a positive sign of the state’s economic conditions and will help with the economic uncertainty caused by the 40-year highs in inflation, which she says is being caused “by the Biden’s Administration’s heavy spending.” Governor Noem said in another public statement that she intends for the state to “spend taxpayer money wisely and responsibly,” and has publicly cautioned against “a reduction in our state’s tax structure.”
But the South Dakota Freedom Caucus sees the large reserves as a clear sign of over-taxation and reckless spending priorities by the Noem administration.
“The Governor and her legislative allies need to remember this isn’t our money,” said Freedom Caucus Chairman Representative Aaron Aylward, “it’s the people’s money that we’ve been entrusted for their benefit, not to hold on to or horde when people need it the most.”
The South Dakota Freedom Caucus further pointed to expenditures totaling over $5 million under the Noem administration, which the Freedom Caucus publicly stated are “wasteful and unnecessary expenditures,” including the: Governor’s new private jet; Governor Mansion security wall & redecoration costs; a personal tv media studio; and a still undisclosed amount of taxpayer funds that were spent on political campaign related activities.
“Using public money for personal benefit, is not wisely spent taxpayer money,” said Mulally, “when the public never sees the benefit.”
The South Dakota Freedom Caucus intends to make the issue a priority at the upcoming 2023 legislative session, which starts January 10, 2023.