By Senator John ThuneThe South Dakota legislative session is upon us and legislators face a full plate of important issues that must be addressed. While new challenges are present at the start of every legislative session, perhaps the most important task the legislature must accomplish is balancing the state’s budget. South Dakota is one of 49 states that has some type of requirement in law calling for the budget to be balanced.
This past year, the South Dakota Legislature, in conjunction with Governor Dennis Daugaard, became the first state in the nation to balance its budget for the year. Many tough decisions were made on spending cuts and budget priorities. Thanks to this difficult, but necessary fiscal discipline, South Dakota is one of fifteen states to report a surplus heading into the New Year and legislative session.
Conversely, the federal government recently hit the $15 trillion debt mark. The lack of a balanced budget requirement at the federal level continues to allow Washington to spend beyond its means and accumulate record amounts of debt and deficits. While the U.S. has been close to reaching a debt-to-GDP ratio of 100 percent for the past several months, the country recently officially surpassed the 100 percent debt-to-GDP mark. Two leading economists, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, have stated that debt in excess of 90 percent can cut our country’s economic growth rates in half. Washington’s policies of reckless spending have put America well beyond this point.
The federal government desperately needs to take a cue from South Dakota in terms of responsible budgeting and economic development. I will continue to work to pass long-overdue budget reforms, including a balanced budget requirement for Congress in order to restore our country’s fiscal health. Future generations should not be weighed down by the irresponsible fiscal decisions Washington makes right now.