Name: Make the most of COVID-19 money – Community News
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Name: Make the most of COVID-19 money

PIERRE, SD (KELO) — There is something to be said for those who can see a good way out of a bad situation.

That is the image that Governor Kristi Noem portrayed in her budget speech on Tuesday.

Noem, a very conservative Republican, said she was considering turning down the hundreds of millions of dollars Congress had designated as South Dakota’s share of COVID-19 relief.

“There’s another kind of revenue coming to South Dakota this year. And it’s not revenue in the traditional sense — it’s a giant alms from Washington, DC,” she told lawmakers.

Noem understood how Congress works because she had been there.

In 2018, Noem was already in her eighth year as the only state member in the U.S. House of Representatives when she ran for governor.

She entered the governor’s office with a perspective none of her predecessors had.

She also knew that most of the people at home were paying the government’s bill — and that would be the case for federal COVID-19 aid, too.

“That money doesn’t come out of the blue,” Noem said on Tuesday. “That’s also taxpayer dollars, and it’s money borrowed from the future — from our children, our grandchildren and beyond.”

That made her question whether she should take it.

“People would ask me from time to time, ‘Kristi, why don’t you just return the federal money? After all, it’s tax money.’ That was my first thought too – to refuse the money,” she said.

“But here’s the problem. Returning that money means the money goes to another state — to California, to New Jersey, maybe Illinois, Michigan or Minnesota. That money is not going back into the pockets of taxpayers in South Dakota.

“It would be spent somewhere other than South Dakota. The debt would still be incurred by the country, and our people would still be affected by that expenditure.”

It’s a dilemma that each of the country’s 50 governors faced to some degree. Men considered what the windfall could mean to meet some of South Dakota’s many needs. $600 million for prisons. Outdated dams. Outdated water and sewer lines. Thousands of less-paid health workers, as well as many state officials, as well as educators.

“There’s something else about those dollars. The money already spent in Washington, DC has been sent to the state with obligations. They put conditions on how we can spend it and when we can spend it,” Noem said.

So she decided to use a lot of it. She recommended $660 million for water projects on Tuesday. $200 million for labor housing. Six percent increases. The list went on and on.

And she looked at what attracts people to visit South Dakota, or even to move here.

Possibility.

The appeal of the outdoors of the state.

The highest percentage of unfilled vacancies in the country.

In the end, for someone as conservative as they were, the COVID-19 aid proved too good to turn down.

“As far as we can, we’re going to put those funds to work for our state, to meet our state’s most pressing needs, to make fiscally responsible, one-time expenditures that won’t grow the government, but will help ours. people make money in the long run,” Noem said.

Representative Linda Duba, a Democrat from Sioux Falls, then summed it up. Said Duba, “She exceeded our expectations.”