Entries Tagged 'State Funding' ↓

South Dakota State Legislature could easily meet remotely

Well you know what they say, once an Authoritarian Ignoramus, always an Authoritarian Ignoramus. It seems Steve Haugaard’s Covid death dance wasn’t enough for him to change his mind;

But attending a session remotely would require a change in the rules, something Haugaard doesn’t support.


“Life has risks. I think we need to move forward and get our job done. If you’re expecting entire session to be problematic, you’ve got to consider, do I resign my position and let somebody actually get out there who can fill the role,” Haugaard said.


This has always been my strongest argument against conservatism. It’s not their stone-age views on race, sexuality, women, gun safety laws or abortion it’s their incredible incapability of excepting change, even if that change is easy, doable, economically sound and beneficial. Essentially Steve is saying, “Hey, this is how we have always done things, so tough sh*t, either Linda can show up and face possibly getting a life-threatening virus or resign.”

Sure, as bewildering as Haugaard sounds, trust me, I’m no fan of Linda Duba either. She has tried to pull the puppet strings of the South Dakota Democratic party and has tried some vindictive tricks on members of her own party (I was asked to NOT blog about it -oops, I guess I did anyway). Either way, Duba or any legislator has the right to work from home, because quite honestly, it’s pretty easy to do.

The main argument floating around is that legislators need to be in Pierre to talk to lobbyists. That is the biggest problem with Pierre, the lobbyists. They should be banned from the Capital grounds, in fact the entire city during the legislative session. If the legislators need to talk to them, they can do via Zoom, phone or email. This also includes all the dinners and drinky sessions the lobbyists throw for the legislators. Also, not necessary, and in fact should be in state law that they are banned.

Legislators MAIN engagement should be with constituents, via phone, email, etc. and anybody can testify via zoom or phone during the committee meetings and hearings, even legislators. Sessions and voting should also be no different.

A former legislator admitted to me that being in Pierre is the optimal place to legislate, but it could be done remotely with little inconvenience.

In fact moving forward I think that legislative sessions should be remote (or partially remote). There is no reason for legislators to drive to middle of nowhere in the middle of winter to talk about legislation next to each other in person. It’s actually a very primitive concept considering they don’t really pass anything until the last couple of days of session. We could save taxpayers thousands of dollars NOT paying per diem for travel and lodging. It would also give the opportunity for people to run who are NOT self-employed with more flexibility to serve. You only have to turn on your laptop when it is time to participate in discussion and debate and voting instead blowing 40 full days in the barren land of Pierre.

Like I said above, the more we re-elect and elect conservatives, the farther behind we become as state. Let legislators participate from the safety of their homes and stop acting like a cavemen.

Is Lt. Governor Rhoden getting out of the ranching business?

Don’t quote me on this, it’s what Larry said on a hot microphone to state legislator, Steve Haugaard before Noem’s budget address just moments ago.

I have often warned elected officials across the state and locally to watch what you ramble in proximity of a microphone before a public meeting, it could be recording.

The conversation between Steve and Larry started out dry, literally, Steve asked if he needed to fill a glass of water for Kristi, which made me laugh, because it is further proof that all these guys do is carry water for her 🙂 Larry told Steve not to worry about it because Maggie will take care of it, and as we both know, she carries a lot of water for Kristi in attacking the fake news.

Then after a long uncomfortable period Steve asked Larry what he has been up to? Larry said, “I’m getting out of the ranching business . . . selling my cattle next spring.” Then he talked about his plan to sell the herd to a young rancher who has been “renting grass from him.”

While this probably isn’t earth shaking news, it may explain why Rhoden all of sudden became a full-time employee for Kristi.

Kristi and her ilk have been government welfare recipients for decades, and it seems to continue as governor when Rhoden needs to get out of the ranching business. And why not, it’s a lot more lucrative warming a chair in Pierre on the taxpayer’s dime.

UPDATE: It was also interesting to watch Stormland-TV pan the camera across the floor and focusing on those wearing and not wearing masks. My rough estimate is that about 33% of legislators were wearing masks, and it was a good mix of Republicans and Democrats (NO Democrats were unmasked). What surprised me was there was several Republican legislators from the Sioux Falls area not wearing masks.

South Dakotans knew exactly what they were voting for in Amendment ‘A’

I only got one prediction correct this election season, that Amendment ‘A’ for Recreational Mary would pass with 52-54% of the vote. Before Tuesday many asked me what I based that number on. It was simple. Amendment A has been polling since July at around 51%. I figured since that polling number stayed consistent over that many months it would pass. I added the extra percentage points because some people tend to lie about voting for making drugs legal. I know, weird!

What I want to remind legislators, unlike their argument for repealing IM22, South Dakotans knew what they were voting for with Rec Mary. It is a drug that used to be legal in this country about 80 years ago Federally. It is also a plant that has been used for thousands of years throughout the world. Trust me, when South Dakotans said they want this, they want it, it should not be misconstrued. Every state so far that has moved towards legalization has NOT overturned their position, there is a reason for that.

I have no doubt the Fascist Republican Party that now has an overwhelming majority in the State Legislature will regulate the piss out of it virtually making it unavailable in a dispensary, but the good news is you will still be able to possess it, use it and grow it. I expect the only retail to cash in on legalization will be hardware stores, since many people will be gardening from home.

I think it is foolish for the state or local entities to deny dispensaries because they will be missing out on the sales tax revenue. I also think this will just drive people to buy from the black market (these folks don’t pay taxes).

It is hard to understand how South Dakotans can do something so smart as legalize a pretty harmless drug, but continue to vote for legislators who want to take away our other rights. But if our lawmakers try to F’ck with Amendment ‘A’ like they did with IM22, there will be Hell to pay.

The Legislative Research Council should be rejecting bills before they make it to Committee

At the Legislative Coffee today, Representative Barthel (Former SF Police Chief) said this;

“In spite of what you hear on the news about a lot of the controversial bills, and things that are introduced, frankly a lot that stuff never even makes it the Governor’s desk. But a key part of that is because of the feed back that we get from the constituents and people we work for that’s how a lot of that stuff dies. And sometimes without that input we may not know what the feelings are of the people of the state.”

First off, maybe you would know what people actually want you to do if you hold some coffees, forums and townhalls BEFORE session instead of in the middle of session. Of maybe knocking on doors and talking to constituents face to face in the off season when the weather is nice.

While it is nice to know that Doug actually listens to constituents, these bills should never be written to begin with, and if they are, the LRC should be rejecting them based on the unconstitutional nature of them. Isn’t that their job? To ‘research’ the viability of these bills? To make sure they are ‘legal’?

Secondly to Barthel’s comment, everyday people have to take time out of their busy lives to drive to the barren wasteland of Pierre and testify against these ridiculous bills in committee hearings, wasting valuable time, energy and personal capital. If the legislature and LRC were doing their jobs, these bills wouldn’t see the light of day. So yes Doug, we do criticize the legislature for these moronic proposals, even if some of them are killed.

UPDATE II: The FIX is in on property taxes

UPDATE II: I went and talked to the equalization department today. After reviewing the increase, they explained to me that 90% of the increase is land value, in which is formulated different now. We also calculated that my taxes will probably go up $250 dollars next year, which is NOT $2 a month, just for the record.

UPDATE: I decided to go back and look at the records I could find

From 2008-2009 the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2009-2012  the value of my home went up 0%

From 2012-2016  the value of my home went up 10% (aprox 2.5% per year)

From 2016-2017  the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2017-2018  the value of my home went up 1.8%

From 2018-2019  the value of my home went up 2.3%

From 2019-2020  the value of my home went up 21.9%

As I predicted and warned people, the school bond, the new county jail and the multiple TIFs we hand out are going to catch up with us. The $2 a month boloney they pitched us was a farce, because I knew they were going to make hay with the assessments. And sure enough they did.

My increased assessments year after year have been steady, but reasonable. I have owned my home for 17+ years and my property taxes have doubled in that time.

I have done little upgrades to my home, except replacing windows, doors, adding new rain gutters a privacy fence and re-shingling after storm damage. I have done NO upgrades to the interior of my house.

So imagine my surprise when I got this in the mail yesterday;

Well, I was NOT surprised, I saw this coming like a freight train. We can’t keep borrowing money in Sioux Falls and not have a way to pay those bonds, so they bleed it out of us through back door tricks like assessments. Can I afford a 21.9% increase in my assessed value? I suppose, but it also means a lot less money in my pocket.

It was interesting listening to the State Legislators talk yesterday at the legislative coffee about state funding of education. Two Republicans made great points;

• The state gives the districts money and the districts decide how that money is spent (salaries, etc.).

• Administrator pay in SD ranks at 15th while teacher pay is at 49th. I haven’t checked that stat, but I know at one time in was around 22nd. There is a obvious disparity.

• Low voter turnout at school elections. The past school bond and school board elections both had around a 4% turnout. Basically the legislator was saying, if you want to have a say on how your local district is being funded, maybe you should show up and vote in these elections. AMEN Brother! But I also have to add their is voter suppression when you use super precincts, no precincts in the northern part of our city and have district finance department employees ‘hand count’ votes, while the business director puts those counts into the system without oversight.

Who knew that owning a house that was built in 1889 could increase in value by almost 22% in one year? Not bad for a home that is 131 years old. What a joke.

Fuzzy Math on Education?

FF this video to 30:00

After watching this presentation on school funding, I came away even more confused. The comparison to funding on what is spent per student, and showing the average salaries of teachers while avoiding what we pay administrators actually muddies the waters even more. I’m not sure who is showing us the actual numbers – maybe both are wrong.

Maybe some of my readers can make sense of it, because it was all Greek to me.

In a quick search today I found that school principal pay in South Dakota ranks 25th in the nation. Administrators as a whole we rank around 39th (this is support and office staff). They danced around these numbers in the above presentation. I’m not sure why it is so difficult to just show what the SFSD is paying administrators, compare it to statewide statistics and national statistics. It’s similar to when I have tried to find the total SFSD debt. I ran in circles for about an hour and eventually gave up.

On a more positive note, this bill is currently going through the state legislature;

House Bill 1177 moves to the House floor of the South Dakota Legislature today.  

The bill would move school board elections to the November general election ballot.

Finally some common sense in Pierre. I fully support this, and I think municipal elections should also be held at the same time. The biggest beef I have had with school elections is that they seem to be organized around voter suppression. Often held by themselves with questionable super precinct locations and hand counted by district employees. I hope this bill passes.

While funding of education, my ever rising property taxes, the disparity in teacher pay to administrator pay and voter suppression are concerns I have, my biggest concern when it comes to the SFSD is the lack of openness and transparency, it is the core rot that leads to my mistrust of the district.

South Dakota State Legislature Coffee, Feb 8, 2020

Weekly Tidbits

CORY & SD VOICE WILL WIN THEIR CASE

Let’s just chalk it up to another failure in state government;

To refresh your memories, I am challenging two main points of state petition law: first, 2019 House Bill 1094, Rep. Jon Hansen’s (R-25/Dell Rapids) circulator badge and registry scheme now mostly encapsulated in SDCL 2-1-1.3–2.1.1.9, and the state’s requirement that initiative petitions be submitted a full year before the election at which you would get to vote on them.

There are so many constitutional issues with the legislation, I don’t even know where to start. If I had to make a bet on this, I would put $1K down in the first Aberdeen telephone booth video lottery casino I could find that they will win, and win huge.

I sometimes wonder if SD State Legislators take there pocket US Constitutions (if they have ever had one) and burn it before the first day of session.

MINNEHAHA COUNTY COMMISSION SAYS ONE EMT IS A-OK

I still have not figured out why they decided to go for this in the biggest county in the state;

AMBULANCE ORDINANCE HEARING
Mr. Gearman gave a briefing on the proposed amendments as follows: Article 2, Section 6 updating language to align with South Dakota law and administrative rule; Article 6 to remove the requirement of consent and a written agreement between two licensees for special events; and Article 14 updating language to align with South Dakota law and administrative rule regarding minimum personnel requirements Other minor changes were made for the purposes of consistency and formatting. Speaking in favor of the amendments, Dr. Jeff Luther, Rural Ambulance Quality Assurance Director, explained that he believes reducing the requirement from two emergency medical technicians (EMT) to one EMT would not cause a decrease in quality. Tim Haight, 3403 W 93rd Street, Sioux Falls, inquired about the proposed amendment to Article 6. Maggie Gillespie, Senior Deputy State’s Attorney, responded to Mr. Haight’s question explaining that he would need to contact his own legal counsel if he had legal questions, and that the change to Article 6 only removes the requirement to obtain consent from the existing service area ambulance service for a special event. Jay Masur, 25968 476th Ave, Sioux Falls, Med-Star Paramedic Ambulance President & CEO, spoke in opposition to lowering the number of EMTs. Dr. Luther responded to the concerns brought forward by Mr. Masur explaining that smaller ambulance services struggle to find enough people to serve. Therefore, the requirement of two EMTs made it hard to operate. Additionally, many Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Deputies are trained EMTs with impressive response times. Mr. Gearman explained that the ordinance is a minimum standard. Ambulance services may choose to set their standards at any level they want as long as the minimum is met. MOTION by Karsky, seconded by Barth, to approve Ordinance MC31-6-19, the 2019 Ground Ambulance Licensing Ordinance. By roll call vote: 5 ayes. The entire Ordinance is on file and available for inspection at the County Auditor’s Office.

I think it is a cost saving measure for the for profit ambulance services. It will be interesting to see how staffing changes.

SOUTH DAKOTA DEMOCRATIC PARTY FINALLY GETS THEIR SH*T TOGETHER

So this was pretty cool;

The state party’s Central Committee elected Randy Seiler to serve as the chair on Saturday, according to a party announcement. Seiler, the party’s vice chair, has been serving as the interim chair since Paula Hawks resigned as chair in September. SDDP Executive Director Stacey Burnette jointly resigned with Hawks.

Isn’t it crazy that stuff is not so bad with the Dem party in SD?  I kind of wonder what kind of BS has been concocted over the past couple of years. I hope in the name of transparency the party tells us what has been going on and how they are going to fix it. This could be a great moment for them rooting out the corruption. As an Indy, I have never liked the party system. It just seems like a system that needs to go away and make government on all levels non-partisan. I had a friend tell me once that he doesn’t belong to ‘clubs’ because they seem to ‘clubby’ with lots of rules and other stupid crap. It always made me laugh, because I agree.

CITY SHUTS OFF EMERGENCY SIRENS FOR THE WINTER

I just think this is weird. Why wouldn’t you want to make sure they work all year long? There are other ‘disasters’ you might want to warn citizens about in the winter besides tornados. I almost wonder if this has to do with the embarrassment of the tornado warning system failing this summer and they are trying to minimize the failure. Hey, McFly, that is over and done with, time to move on and make sure they work moving forward. Don’t people learn from their mistakes anymore?

WHO IS BEHIND THE STACE NELSON CASE

The rumor mill has been on full cycle that the SD GOP is behind going after Nelson about blocking people of FB. They have been wanting to get Stace for his big mouth for years, and I think they want to bury him with this Federal case. I think it is funny how the SD GOP is concerned about the 1st Amendment when they want to hurt someone, but the rest of the time they are the most secretive party of all time. And corrupt. If you want to apply these rules to Nelson, which I think that is a good thing, you also have to follow them to. So if you want to make sure politicians are not blocking people on FB, maybe in the next session you should pass sweeping open meeting transparency laws . . . wait, maybe that is why Stace in trouble, he told us about the warts of the GOP.

Half-Penny Sales tax increase was a bad idea from the get go

Noem keeps up with the tradition of past Republican Governors in our state, telling us how poor we are right before the legislative session, then once it is over they start spending money on pet projects (mostly corporate handouts). Oldest trick in the book. This even comes after added revenue from online sales and the half penny increase;

Noem announced her budget plans Tuesday, which urged state departments to tighten their belts as they head into a difficult financial year. That plan included not having any discretionary inflation increases for overall K-12 education, Medicaid providers and state employees.

But that means there will be no change between target teacher salaries from 2020 to 2021, making it the third year the state has fallen behind on its promise to keep teacher pay competitive if the budget passes

I said it was a bad idea to raise taxes because I knew this would happen, the money went straight into the general fund for the Governor and legislature to waste. Even after several years, it still makes me livid that the legislature didn’t find the money elsewhere (that they have in investment funds) to pay teachers more. Now we are back to square one, and an unneeded tax increase to boot. Don’t get me started. Our State government has been inept for decades, and gets worse by the day.

The Myth about State Vendors

Believe it or not, not all services the state requires can be accomplished by private businesses located in our state. I know that may come as a shock to you, but that is just the way it is. Even if the state is purchasing a product or service from a state owned business, there is usually no requirements that business has to purchase other materials needed to complete the project in state. Just like private business, the state has to use the best resources available at the most reasonable price.

You may disagree with the state using a Minnesota firm for their idiotic meth campaign, but it likely went through proper channels. I have worked in printing for over 25 years, and the government, whether that is Federal, State or even local (like county, school and city) buys mountains of products out of state. I have bid on and won jobs from Minnesota, California, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, New York, and many more out of state agencies and cities including Portland and San Francisco. Even state private non-profit agencies like the Chamber and other trade organizations buy products from out of state.

While it is disheartening to many people, this ‘national’ commerce actually saves taxpayers money (or it should) because you are getting the best product for it’s value in a timely manner. That is NOT always the case (like the meth campaign), but most of the time. Simply saying we have to use a local firm could end up costing us a lot more in the end. Look at the administration building and Midco aquatic center, very expensive and both with issues, we used local contractors.

Just Sayin’