Legislative News

Rep. Parsley’s Legislative Report

By Rep. Scott Parsley
The first week of the 88th Legislative Session is completed. Most of the week was filled with the Governors State of the State message and the State of the Judiciary Message. Both messages focused on corrections reform, emphasizing the success South Dakota has had with drug courts.
What is being proposed is an expansion of sentencing nonviolent offenders who have drug and alcohol problems to treatment rather than imprisonment. While there are some issues in the bill that I have some concerns with, I believe the overall direction of the legislation will significantly reduce the number of nonviolent offenders being sentenced to prison and enable them to receive the treatment they need for their addiction. The programs being proposed by the Governor reflect successful programs operated in other states. This legislation, while having some upfront costs for more treatment centers and trained drug and alcohol treatment experts, will in the long run reduce the need for millions of dollars of investment in prisons that provide no rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders.
While I am very encouraged by the direction and tone of the Correction Reform Bill, I was struck by the fact that the Governor did not mention education funding or Medicaid expansion in his State of the State address. Looking at the projected budget surpluses, I believe we have a great opportunity to restore a portion of the permanent funding for education. It isn’t practical to think we can fully restore education funding in one or two years, but as we project future surplus budgets, as we have for the next two years, we need to begin restoration now.
As a state we also have a great opportunity to help provide insurance for 48,000 uninsured South Dakotans through expansion of Medicaid as well as having a very positive effect on the state economy. Medicaid expansion would bring $200 million per year into the state’s economy at the annual cost of under $2 million for the first three years of the program. Over the next 10 years this would add $2.1 billion in economic activity for a cost to the state of $102 million. If we apply a modest economic multiplier of four, this would result in a conservative economic impact of $8.4 billion for the state over the next 10 years. It seems to me that this is a win-win for our uninsured citizens, as well as for those who currently have insurance which carries an inflated price because of our uninsured. We will continue to discuss these two issues along with many other issues in the coming weeks and I will keep you updated throughout the session.
Please feel free to contact me at rep.parsley@state.sd.us.

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