Key part of South Dakota budget plan approved

| 3/11/2003

The South Dakota Legislature March 6 passed a key part of Gov. Mike Rounds’ plan to balance the state budget.

The state Senate voted 34 to 0 to approve a bill that would let the state reclaim $15 million in environmental cleanup money that was diverted last year to the state highway construction fund.

The environmental money is no longer needed for road construction, the Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan reported.

HB1069 would make that $15 million available for general spending to help balance the state’s 2004 budget.

When Rounds took office in January, he faced a budget shortfall of about $50 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, according to the newspaper.

The governor’s balanced-budget proposal sought to raise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and some telephone calls, make some accounting changes and reclaim the $15 million from the highway fund.

Tax proposals and other bills pending in the House and Senate reportedly would come close to balancing the budget.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.