Today the Mitchell Daily Republic published an Op-ed by Governor Daugaard who said:
South Dakota has a long history of stability and balanced budgets -- for real. We don’t balance our budget with accounting gimmicks, either. We don't push one year's expense into the next.
Yesterday, the Mitchell Daily Republic published a Bob Mercer Op-ed that said:
State government’s surplus was many millions of dollars more than the $24.2 million that was shifted into the reserve fund recently.
The Legislature with the governor’s approval stashed extra money into budgets throughout state government so it wouldn’t qualify as surplus.
Many of those actions took effect by law June 26, four days before the June 30 end of the 2013 budget year.
In many instances the money was placed into 2013 budgets as supplementary increases. Those moves were coupled with protection clauses.
The result was departments and agencies could carry forward unspent amounts to use in the 2014 budget year that began July 1, rather than have money revert to the reserve fund after June 30.
This is why some legislators argued, accurately, that reserves are much higher than what as reported by Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s administration in the past week.
For example, in addition to the 2013-2014 carryovers throughout the government, the Department of Social Services was allowed to continue holding a special $20 million reserve of its own.
Stashing cash like that now is a widespread policy.
So who to believe?