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Priorities for $41 million one-time money revealed

South Dakota Capitol
Brent Duerre

Lawmakers are weighing priorities and projects to fund in the later half of the current fiscal year.

The largest budget item they’re considering is placing $250 million into a fund to pay down new men’s and women’s prisons near Sioux Falls and Rapid City. Officials want to pay that down with cash to avoid bonding for the facility.

Lawmakers are fully funding the women’s prison this year. That project is anticipated to start soon and expected to be complete by 2026.

State lawmakers have an extra $41 million to spend in the current fiscal year.

The Joint Appropriations Committee discussed many of these projects in a marathon session Friday.

While the amounts are still subject to change, lawmakers are signaling support to put $3 million toward a quantum computing center at Dakota State University. They’re looking to put another $3 million toward developing phonics curriculum for state schools, $3 million to replace a dam at Richmond Lake, $4 million for a sheep barn at the state fairgrounds and $7 million to create a cyber security service for counties and municipalities.

The appropriations committee revised down an amount to aid Lifescape, a nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, finish constructing a new facility--from $8 million down to $2 million.

Lawmakers that set the budget also rejected $5 million for the Douglas school district in Box Elder to help prepare for the increase in residents with the Ellsworth Airforce Base expansion and the B21 Raider arrival.

Still up in the air is the amount of state dollars for providing grants to nursing homes for telemedicine technology as well as grants for airport terminal improvements.

Lawmakers are also placing an additional $1.5 million in the Emergency and Disaster Fund to cover the anticipated cost of Gov. Kristi Noem’s fifth national guard deployment to the southern border.

Later on in the hearing, they rejected an appropriation of $150 thousand to unlock millions in federal funds to help feed food-insecure school-aged kids during the summer.

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.