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Executive Board tackles legislative expenses


The legislative executive board met this week, and one piece of the docket was the budget and expenditures of state government.

While the legislature holds the financial keys for state government, its own expenses also must be factored into the formula.

E-board members discussed an $8.5 million appropriation to keep the legislature running Monday. Legislative Research Council director John McCollough explained what the money is paying for.

“There are some notable capital expenditures that we did do," McCollough said. "We encumbered money to upgrade our IT network for the third and fourth floors of the Capitol, so this is the Wi-Fi network. We’ve encumbered money to replace the Senate sound system, we’re going to do the House sound system with Fiscal Year 2025 dollars.”

Along with that, expenditures were made on workspaces in the Capitol building and updates to technology for lawmakers.

Additionally, state travel budgets were also addressed by LRC fiscal analyst Jeff Mehlhaff.

“In fiscal year '24 you’ll see 58 trips out of state, Mehlhaff said. "So, that could have been in December of '23, it could have been in October or August of '23 – it really depends on what that timing is. Here you can see in fiscal year '24 there was about 35 percent of the 105 legislators that would have participated in out-of-state travel. The highest was 42 percent in fiscal year '22.”

The topics covered in a given year can impact what these numbers look like, as told in this interaction between Sens. Jim Bolin and Lee Schoenbeck.

“2022 is a little exaggerated because of a lot of bills were probably paid that year, 2023 is a little less because the bills were paid earlier – I guess that’s how I’m going to try and understand it,” Bolin said.

“I might tap in, but I’m pretty sure Sen. Bolin the reason 2022 numbers are so big includes, if you’ll remember, the large number of people on that marijuana project," Schoenbeck said. "We had a lot more legislators doing interim travel.”

Ultimately, a near-$600,000 budget was approved for legislative travel in the upcoming year.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture