- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota wrapped up its third straight budget year with a surplus, thanks largely to savings in the Medicaid program.

The state general fund budget on June 30 had $2.6 million more revenue than legislators predicted in March, and spending was $7.2 million less than expected, according to Gov. Dennis Daugaard. The net result was almost $10 million put into the state’s reserves.

“This marks the third year in a row that we have maintained structural balance in our budget. This was my No. 1 priority when I took office,” Daugaard said in a statement.

About $6.3 million in savings on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program led to the big drop in anticipated spending, according to the Argus Leader newspaper (https://argusne.ws/1jjsQrS ).

“Since the economy and the business cycle is starting to expand more and be healthier, you’re seeing some of these entitlement programs start to level off,” said Jason Dilges, South Dakota’s budget chief.

Susan Wismer, the Democratic nominee for governor and a member of the budget-setting Appropriations Committee, said the surplus was “great news” but that the Medicaid savings showed the Legislature could have made better predictions that might have freed up money for priorities such as education and nursing homes.

Independent governor candidate Mike Myers had no comment on the surplus.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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