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SDPB Radio Coverage of the South Dakota Legislature. See all coverage and find links to audio and video streams live from the Capitol at

Sutton: Budget Fails Education, Medicaid

State Senator Billie Sutton says he appreciates the bipartisan nature of the legislative session that ended its main run on Friday. He says the Building South Dakota Initiative and the criminal justice system’s overhaul in particular stand out as improvements in the state that reflect successful cooperation.

But Sutton says the budget for Fiscal Year 2014 doesn’t adequately support education or Medicaid for healthcare providers.

Speaking before the Senate vote on the budget Friday night, Sutton relates a conversation he had with a healthcare support provider in his district.

“And they informed me that the McDonald’s is now offering a higher starting wage than they can offer,” he says. “I would hope that we could all agree that that just doesn’t seem right. As far as education goes, we have the lowest-paid teachers in the nation. And I know that we can argue that we don’t set their salaries, but we do. When 85 percent of most schools’ budget is for staff, we do set their salaries with the money that we give them.”

The legislature approved a budget of more than $4 million. About half of that amount comes from federal dollars.

Legislators return to the Capitol for a final day on March 25 to consider action on any vetoes by Governor Dennis Daugaard.