Among key topics of the 2022 Legislative Session, which gets underway next week, will be the opportunity to determine how to allocate millions of dollars of one-time funds. Like last year, South Dakota has a large infusion of federal dollars and strong sales tax revenue, creating an opportunity to invest in new infrastructure, pay for maintenance and repair of existing infrastructure, and prepare our state for future economic downturns.
Among the uses of one-time money will be large investments in water and sewer infrastructure. Fortunately, we already have a system in place through the State’s Board of Water and Natural Resources (BWNR) to help direct water, wastewater, and sewer development projects. The BWNR is a seven-member board of citizens, appointed by the Governor, to promote water development projects, advise the Governor and legislature regarding the state policy and priorities for water resource development, and develop and implement the state water plan.
The BWNR oversees two revolving loan funds which provide low-interest loans and grants to ensure that South Dakotans have access to clean water. The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund helps nonprofit corporations and governmental entities construct drinking water facilities. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund helps governmental entities construct wastewater facilities, storm sewers, and nonpoint source pollution control projects.
This year, in addition to the Omnibus Water Funding Bill which the Legislature votes on annually to provide spending authority for projects on the state water plan, the Legislature will have the opportunity to vote to approve $600 million proposed by Governor Noem from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for water and sewer infrastructure investment.
The Legislature will also consider proposals to increase availability of workforce housing, based on work done this summer by an interim study committee on the topic. Recommendations from the committee include developing infrastructure, promoting technical education, and maximizing existing programs such as tax increment financing districts and the discretionary assessment formula.
As we think about one-time projects and increases in ongoing expenses, I believe we need to keep an eye on the state and national economic outlook. While our economy is strong, according to the Council of Economic Advisors there are areas of concern as we look ahead.
Throughout the 2022 Legislative Session, I encourage District 24 residents to reach out to your legislators: Senator Mary Duvall, and Representatives Will Mortenson Mike Weisgram. We can be contacted through the Legislative Research Council website at sdlegislature.gov and would appreciate hearing from you.