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State Democrats celebrate federal investments in South Dakota

State Sen. Reynold Nesiba, D-Sioux Falls, participates in a conference call Tuesday arranged by the Biden administration to discuss the impact of federal stimulus and pandemic relief money.

State Democrats are rallying around federal spending packages and their impact on South Dakota.

Lawmakers recently wrapped up their annual legislative session, where they set up programs to spend the money.

The state received roughly $3.7 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act. That included direct checks to South Dakotans.

Democratic state Sen. Reynold Nesiba sits on the Appropriations Committee. He says those checks were great for a state like South Dakota, which relies heavily on sales tax collections.

“In an economy like South Dakota’s where we have a broad-based sales tax, it's really been great for our revenues in the state,” Nesiba says. “It’s not only the payments we’ve received, but also just the way in which that’s grown jobs and grown revenues for the state of South Dakota."

Lawmakers are placing $200 million with the South Dakota Housing Authority to provide grants and loans for housing infrastructure investments in water, sewer, roads and gutters.

The Republican-controlled Legislature also approved establishing a $600 million grant program for water, wastewater and sewer infrastructure projects.

Nesiba says the infrastructure bill and American Rescue Plan are bringing transformational investments in South Dakota.

“We already have requests of 1.2 billion. This was infrastructure investment that needed to happen and it wouldn’t have happened without President Biden’s leadership.”

One Republican leader in the state Senate says it would have taken the state decades to put that amount of money into grants for projects. Some Republicans oppose the federal spending. All three members of Congress from South Dakota voted against it, saying previous federal stimulus bills were sufficient.

American Rescue Plan money is still trickling into the state’s coffers. The state is also anticipating nearly $3 billion from the Infrastructure Investment Act.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.