The left hand and the right hand in K-12 ed

Baffle me, baffle me. How does the Legislature’s special planning committee, which has been assigned to study K-12 education during this year and next year, schedule its next meeting for the morning of Monday, July 21 — the same morning the state Board of Education is holding its regular meeting? Here is the agenda for each:

Planning committee — click here;

State board — click here (and here for the documents).

Governor appoints two new members to Capitol Complex Restoration and Beautification Commission

Sandra Zinter of Pierre and John Miller of Brookings are the new members of the state Capitol Complex Restoration and Beautification Commission. Miller, an author and retired historian from South Dakota State University, attended his first meeting today (Wednesday). Zinter, who retired in the past year as state commissioner of human resources, wasn’t able to attend. They replace the late John Day of Vermillion and retired Chief Justice Robert Miller, who resigned in May. The seven members present today re-elected Tim Engel of Pierre as chairman. The others are Pat Harding of Pierre, Carla Sahr of Pierre, Don Zeller of Pierre, Jim Hansen of Pierre and Laurie Gill, the mayor of Pierre and the state commissioner of human resources. The meeting was the panel’s first since August.

Where are the first BPE members? w/update

I can’t say for certain these are the original members appointed by Gov. Dick Kneip in August 1973 but they are the first members listed in the state’s Blue Book 1975 edition for the Board of Environmental Protection. I turned to the Blue Book in an effort to determine how long the last remaining original members, Dick Sweetman of Sioux Falls and Lee McCahren of Vermillion, had served before their retirements this summer. It was more than 40 years. The panel now is known as the state Board of Minerals and Environment. The others named in the 1975 Blue Book were:

Robert Williams of Rapid City;

Donald Farnsworth, Sr., of Carter;

Darles O. Erickson of Huron;

James Peterson of Revillo; and

Lawrence Piersol of Sioux Falls.

If it is the same person, Larry Piersol was serving the second of his two terms in the state House of Representatives at the time. He later was appointed as a federal district judge in Sioux Falls. I don’t know whether Bob Williams is the same person who served in the Legislature during the late 1970s and early 1980s from Brown County. Likewise I don’t know whether Jim Peterson is the same legislator who’s currently serving. UPDATE: Jim confirms this was him. All would have been the approximate ages to have been part of the young Democratic administration during Dick Kneip’s three terms as governor.

Please email me at if you have further information about any of the seven appointees. Or feel free to post comments directly on this blog. (Thanks to Bill Srtska and Jim Peterson for their additional information about this!)

PUC plans EPA meeting

This item was found in the announcements section of the agenda distributed Tuesday for the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission:

1. The PUC will host and commissioners and staff will attend “EPA’s 111(d) Carbon Regulation: A South Dakota Forum,” an examination of the impacts, implications and other issues of the EPA’s proposed plan to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants, Thursday, July 31, 2014, beginning at 8 a.m. CDT in Amphitheater I at the Ramkota Conference Center, 3200 W. Maple St., Sioux Falls, S.D.

Perspective on the FY14 tax numbers

The post below reports on the major sources of general-fund revenues for state government in fiscal 2014 that ended June 30. I went back a bit farther in time to add some perspective from the 2013 results.

The 6.10 percent growth for sales and use tax was an improvement from the 2013 growth of 4.26 percent.

The 7.04 percent growth for contractor’s excise tax was a big jump from the 2013 growth of 1.78 percent.

The 6.86 percent growth for insurance taxes wasn’t quite as strong as the 2013 growth of 8.01 percent.

The 38.52 percent loss for bank franchise tax came in the wake of a 40.93 percent loss in 2013.

Bank franchise tax revenue fell by nearly two-thirds over the course of the 2013 and 2014 fiscal years. The fiscal 2014 collections totaled $10,782,035; they totaled $29,688,991 in fiscal 2012.

That loss of $19 million from bank franchise tax revenue is important to keep in mind when people discuss the growth in unclaimed property revenue. The growth is coming mostly from financial institutions.

State government received approximately $13.9 million in ongoing revenue from unclaimed property during fiscal 2013. The amount climbed to nearly $59.8 million in ongoing revenue in fiscal 2014.

Some numbers behind the budget numbers

That South Dakota state government finished the 2014 fiscal year on June 30 with a small surplus  of $9.8 million in its general fund wasn’t a surprise. Tax receipts were up a little more than expected and social services spending didn’t cost as much as expected. More interesting might be the growth year over year in the major sources of taxes for the general fund. They tell us a generally positive story about South Dakota’s economy:

Sales and use tax collections came in 6.10 percent higher at $823,401,593. That was a $47.3 million increase from 2013;

Contractor’s excise tax receipts landed 7.04 percent higher at $90,409,495. That was a $5.9 million increase from 2013;

Insurance company taxes finished 6.86 percent higher at $75,110,734. That was a $4.8 million increase from 2013; and

Bank franchise tax receipts plunged 38.52 percent to $10,782,035. That was a decrease of nearly $6.8 million.

As for reversions — the money that state agencies don’t expend and turn back — the total was $7,166,563. The Department of Social Services provided most of it: $6,288,147. The Department of Human Services gave back $449,184. Thirteen others reverted the rest. There were 11 agencies, offices, branches and departments that turned back zero. They were Agriculture; Tourism and State Development (I thought we split those four years ago?); Health; Labor and Regulation; Transportation; Education; Environment and Natural Resources; Board of Regents; Public Utilities Commission; Unified Judicial System; and Attorney General.


State justices split on sex-offender case

To read the entire opinion and the entire dissent, go here on the South Dakota Supreme Court’s Internet site. In a decision publicly released today, the justices split 3-2 on whether a court services officer improperly imposed a requirement on an admitted felon that he receive a sex offender evaluation and participate in sex offender treatment. The majority of justices John Konenkamp, Steven Zinter and Glen Severson ruled it was improper delegation and only the court — in this instance, the circuit judge — has the authority to impose a condition of probation. Wrote Justice Konenkamp in the majority opinion:

“This Court has never addressed the issue of improper delegation of
judicial power to a non-judicial officer in the context of a CSO’s authority to impose
a treatment program, counseling, or evaluation as a condition of probation.”

In one key respect, this case turns on the definition of the word “any” that the circuit judge used in the sentencing. The three- justice majority decided “any” didn’t automatically include sex offender treatment and therefore the court service officer exceeded the authority granted by the judge.

The two dissenters, Chief Justice David Gilbertson and Justice Lori Wilbur, argued that the defendant never brought up the issue of unlawful delegation. Wrote Chief Justice Gilbertson in his dissent:

“At no point during the three separate hearings did Blakney mention that the CSO should not have imposed the sex offender treatment condition.”

This was a rape case in which Christopher Blakney pleaded guilty to two assault charges in order to avoid prosecution for rape crimes involving a 16-year-old babysitter at his girlfriend’s residence and for raping his girlfriend in another incident. In each instance he allegedly held a box-cutter to his victim’s throat. He was placed on probation with the possibility of a 13-year prison sentence if he didn’t meet the terms. The circuit judge ruled he violated probation when he didn’t take part in the sex offender treatment ordered by the court services officer. The 3-2 decision by the Supreme Court overturns the circuit judge’s decision.

But it is worth noting that Justice Konenkamp also makes clear in the majority opinion’s final sentences that the circuit judge can modify the sentence:

“This is not to say that the circuit court could not have ordered Blakney
to undergo a sex offender evaluation and complete sex offender treatment. Indeed,
SDCL 23A-27-20.1 provides that “[t]he court, upon notice to the probationer, a
hearing and good cause, shown, may modify the terms and conditions of a
probation[.]” But because the CSO was given ultimate authority to determine
Blakney’s condition of probation, the court erred when it unlawfully delegated its
judicial authority, and in turn, when it revoked Blakney’s suspended sentence.”


The picture of Mike and John

Lest you have any doubt about where the Dakota War College blog stands on political matters in South Dakota this election cycle, the banner photo across the top of the page comes from the South Dakota Republican state convention, showing U.S. Sen. John Thune and U.S. Senate nominee Mike Rounds with hands raised high together in victory clench. The photo is a reminder of another time when the two men’s futures were, like their hands, very much in the air. That was in about 2000. Mike Rounds, a state senator facing his term limit, was trying to decide whether to run for governor in 2002. John Thune, seeking his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, was looking ahead to 2002 as well, trying to decide whether to run for governor or for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Tim Johnson. Thune seemed a sure winner if he ran for governor but the bigger question was whether he personally wanted the daily grind of dealing with all of the situations that confront a governor, from weather disasters to pleas for criminal pardons. Rounds went back and forth about whether he wanted to run for governor. Once Thune made his decision to seek the U.S. Senate, the door opened for the three-way primary between state Attorney General Mark Barnett, former Lt. Gov. Steve Kirby and Rounds. Thune lost against Johnson in 2002. He returned in 2004 and defeated the most powerful politician in South Dakota’s history, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. Barnett and Kirby meanwhile destroyed each other and themselves in their primary fight in 2002 while Rounds kept smiling and won the Republican nomination. Rounds served eight years as governor. In late 2012 he didn’t wait for U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem to announce her plans for 2014. Rounds bolted to the front and announced his plans: He would run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Not long after, Johnson formally announced his retirement. Now, as the convention photo shows, John Thune will do what he can to help lift Mike Rounds to the U.S. Senate too and give Republicans a presumably clean sweep of every statewide elected office in South Dakota. The photo marks a coronation. You can almost hear the Queen song in the background.

GFP plans to incur debt for park projects

The state Division of Parks and Recreation will issue debt bonds to help pay for work at Good Earth State Park south of Sioux Falls and to help pay for the new visitor center at Custer State Park. Division director Doug Hofer began to outline the finance plans Tuesday afternoon to the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission. GFP’s administrative director, Chris Petersen, provided further details later in the meeting. Hofer said the Parks and Wildlife Foundation is still raising money for the projects. “2015 will basically be a construction year at Good Earth,” Hofer said.

At Custer State Park, there’s been no shortage of grand ideas but the challenge is fitting ideas within the budget, Hofer said. They’re hiring Scull Construction of Rapid City as the construction manager at the front end to guarantee a maximum price. Using the construction manager at risk approach can help accelerate the process, according to Hofer, because work can begin on the foundation while planning is still under way for other parts of the building. (In separate work, Scull Construction is also handling the state veterans home project at Hot Springs.) Ground is scheduled to be broken for the Custer visitor center in October.

The Legislature gave GFP authority to issue bonds for the projects. There is a 13-year commitment to provide $1 million for Custer State Park and a 25-year commitment to provide $2 million for Good Earth State Park. Petersen said South Dakota State University will issue some sports-related bonds this fall and GFP can tail onto that bond issue. GFP would issue $2.2 million of bonds, he said, and that would make $880,000 available for Custer and $1.3 million for Good Earth.

Governor wants longer-range finance forecasts

Before the Independence Day holiday break, Gov. Dennis Daugaard filed a potentially important executive order that calls for significantly more planning by his Bureau of Finance and Management on budget matters. Here are the three key sections of the July 2 order:

Section I. A long-term financial plan outlining actual general fund revenues and expenses for the most recent completed fiscal year, and forecasts for the current fiscal year, the next fiscal year, and the succeeding two fiscal years. The financial plan shall include input from the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisors and other financial planning information that is deemed relevant to the financial plan assumptions.

Section 2. A capital expenditure plan outlining projected expenses for construction projects as well as maintenance and repair projects for the next five years. The plan will address cost projections as well as fund sources used to finance the construction and maintenance and repair projects.

Section 3. Recommended policies pertaining to the issuance, maintenance and servicing of debt of the South Dakota Building Authority and the South Dakota Health and Educational Facilities Authority (Vocational Education Program only). The poljcies shall include limits imposed on the total amount of debt to be issued, financial metrics used to govern the servicing of existing or projected future debt service payments, and shall measure compliance with those policies.

This comes on the heels of another executive order from the governor dated June 11 revising and expanding the responsibilities of the Council of Economic Advisors. You can read it here. Essentially it requires the Bureau of Finance and Management to make more information available to the council and to the public. The council in turn is to use that information in its analysis and advice. Also noteworthy is the council membership expands to 12 from 10.

These are major changes that put South Dakota’s state government on a longer-range financial path.