South Dakota has one of the top ten fastest growing economies in the country. As we all know, a strong, thriving economy is the key to increasing our tax base and paying for important government services: education, law enforcement, and caring for those who cannot care for themselves.
There is more good news for our state budget, as well. Thanks to the conservative, frugal efforts of our Legislature, we have created a culture where government doesn't spend every last penny it receives. For FY2012, which ends on the last day in June, many of our state agencies will have underspent their budgets.
With one month to go in the fiscal year, we estimate that the state will spend approximately 99 percent of the funds appropriated this year. The extra 1 percent may not sound like much, but it amounts to about $13 million on the bottom line, unspent. Those dollars will be available for the Legislature to save or to spend next year on education, health care, or other priorities.
That is responsible government. It is better to have a budget surplus than to spend money that we don't have.
I am very proud of the people of South Dakota, for driving our economy to new heights. I am similarly proud of our state employees for showing the same frugality and self-reliance that has made South Dakota a great state.
We weathered a great storm during the recession that began in 2008, but we made it through together. We were unafraid to make the tough choices -- the right choices -- to get our fiscal house in order, and now we can begin to reap the rewards. South Dakota's tax collections look strong, and I'm hoping to report good news about revenues after the fiscal year ends on June 30.
Things are going well in South Dakota and we need to keep it up. We need to keep adding more jobs and growing our economy. That will increase our tax base and allow us to pay for important government services. At the same time, we need to always remember that tax dollars are the peoples' dollars. They should be spent frugally, and we should always err on the side of surplus rather than deficit or debt.
If we can do these things, we can ensure that South Dakota remains in good fiscal health. Now that we are on a sound financial footing, we can turn from repairing our budget problems to planning for a brighter future.