State budget: Pay raises, hemp, bridges and USD building – Rapid City Journal

State budget: Pay raises, hemp, bridges and USD building - Rapid City Journal

She watched from the galleries of both the House and Senate as they voted.

Sen. Reynold Nesiba, a Sioux Falls Democrat, said the process was more open and transparent than it was last year.

The budget had a bit more wiggle room than lawmakers anticipated when they convened in January. Better-than-expected revenues and declines in Medicaid eligibility allowed lawmakers to send nearly $55 million to funds for state employees, teachers and people who work at community programs that are mostly funded by Medicaid. They also approved a nearly $13 million boost this year to the health insurance pool for state employees.

Here’s a look at some other items they funded:



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As part of lawmakers’ proposal to legalize industrial hemp, they approved a crucial demand from the governor — allotting $3.5 million that she says is necessary to “responsibly” startup and run a hemp program.

The governor wanted nearly $1.9 million in one-time funds to start-up the program, and a commitment of another $1.6 million to run it every year. Noem plans to spread the money across three state agencies, paying for up to 15 full-time staff positions, drug-testing equipment, drug-sniffing dogs and new drug storage space. The governor’s office has argued the money is necessary for law enforcement to distinguish between hemp and marijuana.

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