Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s office released a breakdown of the 107.7 full-time equivalent positions added in his budget, a figure that’s drawn fire from some Democrats.
Particularly criticized by the SDDP were the 60.7 new positions in the executive branch, which included 21.4 for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, 14.5 for the Department of Corrections, nine for the Department of Public Safety, and eight for the Department of Health.
Here’s what those positions are, according to the governor’s office:
- The 21.4 FTEs in economic development aren’t new jobs at all, but existing federal positions as the Homestake lab. They’ve been transferred from the federal books to state books, but their salaries are still being paid by the feds. There are no new jobs being created here, and no added cost to the state, Daugaard’s spokesman Tony Venhuizen said.
- The 14.5 FTEs in Corrections are partly added as part of the new Criminal Justice Initiative, and partly in response to the investigation of the death of prison guard Ronald “R.J.” Johnson. They include three juvenile corrections agents, 3.5 correctional officers and three parole agents.
- The nine Public Safety FTEs include five drivers licensing staff, a response to the huge delays seen last summer at Sioux Falls-area drivers licensing stations. There’s also three new highway patrol troopers and an “emergency management preparedness team leader.”
- Six of the eight Department of Health employees are all actually going to be working in the prison system. They’re all “correctional health nursing staff” and will treat inmates. Venhuizen said this will actually save the state money, because treating inmates with nurses will cut down on more expensive hospital visits.
- The other two DOH FTEs are actually with the Board of Nursing and Board of Pharmacy
UPDATE: The South Dakota Democratic Party sends out a news release on the subject, not so much criticizing the new FTEs as the lack of corresponding funding for K-12 education:
Democratic Appropriations committee members pointed out today that Governor Dennis Daugaard’s budget address failed to mention 107 new full-time equivalent (FTE) positions being added to the state payroll, while leaving schools and nursing homes without adequate staff after the 2011 budget cuts.
It’s another clear instance of state government taking care of itself without taking care of its residents first, said Rep. Susan Wismer (D-WIlmot), who sits on the House appropriations committee. “We learned yesterday that these are good times for South Dakota state government: 40 of the 131 employees cut in Pierre two years ago are being added back for some great causes: drug courts, drivers licensing, highway patrol, corrections and corrections health, parole officers, fire fighters, accountants, plus a PhD program in physics, and maintenance and repair catch-up,” said Wismer. “But those good times aren’t extending to education and Medicaid providers. There’s no catch-up provision for them, as they recover only 3% of the cuts they suffered. They are the ones still stuck with ‘the new normal.’”
Sen. Billie Sutton (D-Burke), who sits on the Senate Appropriations committee, added, “Bringing back these positions is an encouraging sign of recovery, but kids depend on schools for a quality education, and seniors depend on the nursing homes in communities across our state – we simply can’t ask them to carry on with massive budget cuts while state government uses our taxes to expand its payrolls.”