Thursday, October 29, 2009

Munsterman Calls for Changes in Government Budgeting

From the Aberdeen American News:

BY BOB MERCER, American News Correspondent

FORT PIERRE - The governor and the Legislature should limit the growth of state government to the rate of inflation and no longer use one-time sources of revenue to cover increased ongoing costs, Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Munsterman said Monday.

Munsterman said those two principles were keys to the city of Brookings eliminating its 10 percent budget deficit and turning surpluses the past five years during his time as mayor.

If elected governor, he said, his chief of staff would be a former chief executive officer from a company which used performance-based budgeting and accountability. He said state government's approach to budgeting hasn't changed significantly in at least 30 years.

“We have not been fiscally responsible with the state budget,” he said.

Munsterman made his remarks during a campaign stop which focused primarily on government's role in health care coverage. He is one of four Republicans seeking their party's nomination for governor in the June 2010 primary election to succeed Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, who is term-limited.

Munsterman said many features of the health-insurance legislation being considered in Congress would “wreck” the rural health care system, including rural hospitals which already operate on what he described as “paper-thin margins” in South Dakota.

He suggested the entire Legislature should take a trip to Washington, D.C., to make clear to Congress what could happen here. “We are definitely at risk in South Dakota with the federal legislation being proposed,” he said.

He later added, “I believe as governor of a state you have to camp out on the door step.” He said Congress should give states an opportunity to opt-out of the changes if there are better ways to respond to the conditions in a state. He said South Dakota ranks 24th nationally in health care costs, which he said is a sign that all sides are doing a good job.

“The hope I want to give you is we can do it here,” he said.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Munsterman says Medicaid eligibility must be scaled back in SD

From the Pierre Capital Journal:

Munsterman says Medicaid eligibility must be scaled back in SD

By David Montgomery
Capital Journal staff

FORT PIERRE — Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Munsterman told a Fort Pierre audience he wants to scale back Medicaid eligibility in South Dakota, but cover more people with catastrophic health insurance.

Speaking at an event at the Pizza Ranch in Fort Pierre Monday, the ex-Brookings mayor said health care reform is needed at both the state and federal levels.

In South Dakota, Munsterman acknowledged he was constrained by federal laws but said Medicaid reform is vital for the state’s budget as well as public health.

“We have to get a handle on unfunded mandates,” Munsterman said. “I believe that is a big portion of what is wrecking our budget.”

Medical expenditures cost the state $128 million in the most recent budget — 11 percent of the $1.1 billion budget. The federal government contributed $335 million toward South Dakota medical services.

Munsterman said the state should scale back Medicaid eligibility and provide vouchers to purchase health insurance for catastrophic events.

He also called for more personal responsibility on the part of Medicaid recipients.

“We have a higher rate of medical care within our Medicaid system than other people do who have their own insurance,” he said. “We need to look at deductibles, we need to look at co-pays. We need to have a program that they can engage in, and become responsible, too.”

Though Munsterman called for federal health care reform, he blasted Democratic health reform packages being debated at the federal level as a “double-barrelled shotgun point right at us” and said he would make sure South Dakota’s voice is heard in Congress.

“It’s going to be very important from a political leadership standpoint that as your new governor, I stand up in Washington,” Munsterman said. “If I have to, I would bring the whole legislature with me to voice the opinions of this state so we can protect our individual rights and our state’s rights.”

Munsterman is one of three declared Republicans running for governor. The others are Lt. Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Senate Majority Leader Dave Knudson and Buffalo Gap rancher Ken Knuppe.

Ten people — including two reporters and Secretary of State Chris Nelson, a Republican candidate for Congress — turned out to Munsterman’s event Monday, the 17th in a planned series of 42 events around the state focusing on health care. Munsterman said he is planning to start a similar tour soon focusing on education.

“The benefit is to come up with a good plan for South Dakota,” Munsterman said. “I can come up with ideas and do all the research that I can — but that’s one person. So I’m out listening and testing those ideas in front of people.”

Pierre resident Bob Parsons said he found the event informative — but that not yet persuasive.

“I thought it was very interesting,” Parsons said. “We’re here to find out what these guys are up to — then we’ll decide.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

50 Years of Tradition

South Dakota has a many great traditions. But one that comes to mind over and over again is how we, in this state, value family traditions.

Having known the Carr family for the past 25 years, I am very proud of the service this family has provided in quality health care to the Miller and Huron region. I know from both a personal and professional level, these doctors are compassionate and committed to not only their patients but also to the people in their respective communities demonstrated by their public service. Drs. Nickelson and Hartung, doctors practicing in the Carr Clinic group, carry out this established tradition with honor and professionalism.

I am privileged to call them all trusted colleagues.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Voters Say No to Opt-out

Right or wrong, the people of Roberts County are for sure about one thing - now is not the time to raise taxes.

What people must wake up to is the fact that, if our state doesn't balance our budget soon, we will be completely out of reserves (due to our structural deficit the past 7 years) and an automatic increase in property taxes will kick in.

Now is the time to re-prioritize and tighten our belt: at home and in government.

From the Sisseton Courier, 10-6-09:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Balancing Our Budget

I appreciate columnist Bob Mercer's keen interest in the looming $200 million budget deficit for the State of South Dakota. The unnamed state bureaucrat he quoted saying my ideas would have to close universities, state prisons, and state courts is totally out of touch with taxpayers and reality.

The two major culprits that have caused our budget problem are:

A. The worst recession in modern history. We had "rainy day" funds, but instead we got a 100‑year flood.
B. Unfunded state mandates. The current the proposed federal health reform law could place up to a $60 million unfunded mandate on the taxpayers of South Dakota.

We will have to factor into future state budgets the hyperinflation which always follows runaway federal spending such as 16 percent during President Carter's administration.

If South Dakota does not have a balanced budget, our State Constitution provides for an automatic statewide real property tax increase until the budget is balanced. This is totally unacceptable to all but a handful of very liberal politicians who would like to force South Dakota into a state income tax.

This means every South Dakota taxpayer needs to be concerned about our state budget. And we need to help Governor Rounds and the state legislators solve this problem.

As a two-term mayor, I learned the principles of balancing government budgets: hold the line on spending, cut spending to match revenue and defer spending where possible until revenues catch up. Growing the economy with more to tax rather than taxing people more is a key strategy. This is not just my opinion, but the prevailing sentiment I found the past several months as I traveled to 137 communities across South Dakota discussing what taxpayers really want from state government. They want better government not bigger government, and for sure they don't want new taxes.

I have suggested starting on the 2011 state budget using the 2005 budget as a base then we can build toward actual revenues available to keep a balanced budget.

I would also suggest a freeze on state hiring, limiting travel and expenses, and cutting across the board similar to how Governor Janklow handled an inherited budget deficit. It worked then and it will work now.

We also need to redouble our efforts for growth, which increases revenue and provides new and better jobs.

The challenge of balancing our budget and providing for state government needs will continue. It is not a one person job. Meeting our challenges is the responsibility of about 800,000 citizens. We need a healthy debate on how we best provide for the basic needs of South Dakota and South Dakotans. I'm happy to have initiated this debate.