Heinemann March 4 Weekly Report

With one full week to go, many of the bills that were introduced just four to six weeks ago have been laid to rest, and those that are still alive have been sent to the Governor for his signature. There are a few left to negotiate over in language, but the important issue of the day is the budget.
Many of the legislators want more discussion on this topic earlier in the session, but unfortunately, the budget depends on two major things: how much an entity spends and how much revenue will be available. How much is spent depends on the various agencies and their future expenditures, as well as how many new and different programs the legislators introduce, and get passed,  throughout the nine weeks of session. Then a person looks at the revenue side, and can get a feel for what kind of revenue the state is presently taking in, then “set” the budget. Sounds pretty simple… right! Well, most of you know it isn’t that simple.
I suggested the first part of January of this year that the big topic of discussion would be the budget. In round figures, our state generates over 60 percent of its revenues from sales tax receipts. In 2016, our state went over the $1 billion number in sales tax receipts for the first time, in a $1.5 billion yearly budget. Unfortunately, the sales tax numbers were not as stellar as anyone predicted last December, and although the receipts grew, they didn’t grow at the rate our last year’s budget predicted. Combined with a downturn in the ag economy, our sales tax receipts will be about $25 million short of budget for the current fiscal year (2017 which ends July 1, 2017), and a similar, yet undetermined, amount in fiscal year 2018. Suffice it to say that the projected increases to various programs and agencies proposed in December 2016 will be difficult to follow through on. Our goal is to balance the budget, which everyone knows is required by law. We have a proposal that will amend the FY17 budget, due in part, to less spending with some of the state agencies, and are presently working on trying to balance the FY18 budget. I will keep you informed as to where our final numbers come out.
We are working on a bill (SB 95) to remove cannabidiol (CBD) from the definition of marijuana. I like that approach, and for the first time in my five years in the legislature, support allowing the use of CBD to treat different forms of epilepsy, as well as some other debilitating diseases. It would allow CBD to be prescribed by a licensed physician, dispensed by the pharmacist, and be FDA approved. I hope we can get this idea to the finish line, but as you might expect, there are a lot of interested parties!
I will try to do a “wrap up” of the legislative session next week. We won’t know whether the Governor will veto anything yet, but I’ll have a summary after veto day March 27. We need to complete our balanced budget, and I’ll work to meet that goal. Thank you for your comments, and as always, contact me at Leslie.Heinemann@sdlegislature.gov.

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