Today’s Argus Leader has on its front-page Governor Rounds with "State job growth outpaces population" as its headline. Here is the introduction:
State government has swelled under Gov. Mike Rounds - both in spending and employees.
Depending upon whom you ask, it represents either steady but needed growth or an aggressive surge in the public payroll in an era when local governments and other states have curtailed costs.
From fiscal year 2003, the final year of former Gov. Bill Janklow's last term, to fiscal 2007, the end of the Republican Rounds' first term, the overall state budget grew from about $2.5 billion to a budgeted $3.2 billion. The just-passed general appropriations bill tops $3.3 billion. That will pay for the programs and agencies of state government in the year that starts in July.
The National Association of State Budget Officers says that in 2003, 37 states cut parts of their budgets; the next year 18 states did. South Dakota, in part because of a strong budget reserve, has steadily increased spending.
New hires take a good chunk of the budget increases.
From 2003 to 2007, the number of full-time equivalent positions authorized for state government grew from 13,114 to a budgeted 14,125. The just-passed appropriations bill for next year carries a total of 14,208.
That's a growth of almost 1,100 state jobs since Janklow left office. At the same time, the state population grew modestly, from about 764,000 in 2003 to 770,000.
Rounds, who refused to be interviewed for this story, calls the growth a careful ramping up of much-needed positions in the state's university systems, prisons and health and social programs, where he says investment is critical.
Some examples of new positions during the Rounds administration:
More than 27 positions in 2005 to staff an expanded higher education nursing education program.
43 positions in the Corrections Department in 2006, about 25 for guards and other staff for a new unit at the state penitentiary to handle a growing inmate population and seven more parole agents.
84 new positions in 2005 to spread across public university campuses, many as faculty positions to meet enrollment growth.
In total, almost 750 of the new positions under Rounds are with the Board of Regents.
Catch that? Three-fourths of the State’s job growth is at the Universities. Here is more as the page 5A headline says, "Growth: Higher ed drives state government expansion":
State Rep. Shantel Krebs, R-Sioux Falls, said when she first arrived in the Legislature three years ago, she was surprised by the growth.
"I thought, 'Oh, look at all those FTEs,' " she said. "But when it's explained what the purpose is, then you see the value."
She said the greatest growth is in the university system as the state accelerates its efforts to be a national player in research and development. In fact, the state Board of Regents, which oversees the universities, has added more positions than any other during the past two decades, and education officials say those jobs are solid investments. Scientists and researchers bring in federal grants, which amount to added revenue for the system.
Yeah, but who is paying for the "federal grants"…the taxpayers. Come on, what is economic for one is economic undevelopment (taxes) for another when big government enters capitalism. The report ends with this:
At the universities, officials say the state's push for more doctorate programs and university-based research has benefit from Rounds' policies.
Part of the university new hires are to meet a growing enrollment and part are for a more aggressive mission to develop a climate of research and to add a number of doctorate programs on the campuses, says Tad Perry, executive director of the regents.
Total enrollment in the public university system is up 14 percent since 2000, he said. Off-campus enrollment is up 39 percent during that period. South Dakota State University alone has seen a 24 percent increase, primarily in on-campus students, during the same time.
"You can't teach these additional students without hiring faculty," Perry said.
But it's only a start. Even with nine new doctorate programs in three years, there's room for more growth, professors say.
"We are taking on quite a new challenge here," Burns said of the university system. "We are trailing badly with regard to university-sponsored research and Ph.D. degree programs. We could quadruple our effort and still be trailing."
Yet he said the push in that direction can't come at the expense of undergraduate education at the public campuses.
"We do that mission very well," Burns said of undergraduate education. To increase the research mission requires "a shift in thinking. It takes new resources, not a reallocation of existing resources. It requires additional state funding."
Additional state funding? The chart on page 5A shows the Board of Regents funding going from $378,429,788 in 2003 to $572,975,262 in 2008. That is an 51% increase.
And nobody must of told Patrick Lalley about all of this. His column is an apologist’s piece for Higher Ed’s position against the tech school governance board. Excerpt:
The fact is, we've been brought to this point by years of neglect and an unwillingness to address the underlying problem.
That is simply: We have too many public universities.
As a state, we've demonstrated time and again that we aren't willing to pay for what we have.
As Jewett points out, funding for existing programs and infrastructure at the universities has remained essentially flat for 10 years.
"For example," he writes, "the state's annual appropriation for heating the six universities is now $2,500,000 per year behind the actual heating costs."
In this atmosphere, it's probably only natural that the regents would lash out at the technical schools.
That certainly doesn’t jive with the Terry Woster report. Enrollment growth required new positions. From 2003 to next year, the Board of Regent’s headcount is expected to go from 4,764 to 5,507…over a 15% increase. And as I noted earlier, their budget increases by over 50%. What was Lalley thinking? He wasn’t as he writes this:
Jewett, the president of the Board of Regents, knows the real issue. When the debate started this year over whether to move control of the technical institutes away from the K-12 school districts in which they reside, Jewett wrote a letter to lawmakers staking out the Regents claim.
He wrote: "... in this era of shrinking numbers of traditional age K-12 students and stagnant post-secondary 'operations' budgets, the regents just did not feel that it could sit on the sidelines while a second, independent, duplicative and competing post-secondary system was established."
That's the crux of the matter.
Yes, the crux of the matter is that the education establishment wants to keep its monopoly and just can’t tolerate any independent competing interests. And the Argus Leader is a big proponent of the education establishment. It was funny to watch them cut their own throat as they attacked a Republican Governor for growing government too much. Today you got Woster attacking Higher Ed for getting too much money as Lalley writes a column that whines about Higher Ed not getting enough. Perhaps the Argus Leader should realize that Rounds is more to the left than what a good Republican should be. No conservative would give this much money to the humanists of the education establishment.