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´╗┐State budget picture eludes clarity going into final week

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Lawmakers push for special projects

"Beyond the big three, things that are important to us are a little bit more money for education, above and beyond 3 percent," Rave said, specifically highlighting teacher pay as something his caucus wants to address. And he said Senate Republicans want that funding to be ongoing money, "if it's there," rather than one time bonuses.

Not all of them will get funded, and the battle will be on to win support and get the projects into the budget.

Lust, on the other hand, said House Republicans are talking only about one time extra spending.

That doesn't mean legislators won't try to push through funding for Saucony Bait Cruel World

Holding the line on schools, hospitals

The Joint Appropriations Committee will make the final recommendations about how to change Daugaard's budget. But all 105 lawmakers will get a say. And any one of them can propose budget amendments that get an up or down and usually down vote from the appropriators.

Lust agreed.

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Unlike most legislative sessions, it's been difficult to pinpoint the amount of revenue available to be parceled out.

Some of the uncertainty with this year's revenue projections Saucony Black And Green is because of changes in the banking industry that affect the unclaimed property fund. In large part, that reflects unusued prepaid debit cards and other financial products sold by banks in the state. The unclaimed property revenue has skyrocketed in the past few years, and no one know for sure how to predict it into the future.

But individual lawmakers also have pet projects, and each is convinced his Saucony Grid 8500 On Feet

PIERRE With just five working days to go, South Dakota lawmakers have yet to begin debate on the state's budget.

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In practice, though, the 18 appropriators don't usually make the big decisions about what to spend. Lawmakers confer with their entire caucus and make joint decisions about top priorities. Given Republican dominance in the South Dakota Legislature, that gives the GOP power to set the budget if its lawmakers can agree.

to find extra money for schools, they disagree about how to do that.

Or take Mickelson, who originally asked for $2.5 million in extra money for the state's tech schools. South Dakota gives far less money to its tech schools than any of its neighbors and makes it up by charging higher tuition. That puts South Dakota schools and students at a disadvantage, Mickelson says, and one the state should work to redress.

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"There's not going to be a lot of money next week to fund anything that's not in the governor's budget," predicted Rep. Mark Mickelson, R Sioux Falls.

Though Mickelson thinks this tech school funding would benefit the state, he's not holding out much hope.

"There's a committment by both the (governor) and both chambers of the Legislature to work very hard to keep that 3 percent increase for the big three," Lust said.

things such as technical education, pine beetle eradication and restoration of a portion of railroad in central South Dakota.

Just two years ago, the fund provided close to $15 million. In December, Daugaard revealed new projections of more than $60 million in ongoing money plus more than $30 million in one time receipts.

But the consensus stops there.

Fluctuations in that fund also are important because one of the other key sources of revenue for the state, the bank tax, is expected to be down. That might counteract any gain from the state sales tax which was up 3.5 percent in January over last year.

Monday morning, lawmakers will hear predictions about how much money the state will have to work with next year. And between then and Friday, all the key decisions will be made about how, if at all, the Legislature should change Gov. Dennis Daugaard's proposed budget.

"This level of unclaimed property is a new phenomenon," Lust said. "Because it's such a significant number now, as opposed to the past, I think there's a lot of concern to make sure we're in the ballpark on that estimation."

Everyone seems to agree on one thing: schools, medical providers and state employee wages will get at least the 3 percent increases Daugaard proposed even if Monday's budget news is bad.

"This year more than any other year, the budget is still greatly in flux at this point," said Rep. David Lust, the House Republican leader. "We're going to get a late start on getting this all figured out. Typically when you come to this point, the picture is relatively clear. And this time, it's not."

Democrats, who pushed hard this year for even more money for schools, also are on board.

For example, Sen. Mike Vehle, R Mitchell, wants to spend $6 million in one time money to rehabilitate an old state owned railroad from Chamberlain west to Reliance. Upgrading that track, Vehle says, will take damaging trucks off the road and enable new agricultural and ethanol industries.

or her proposal is a vital investment in the state's economy or well being.

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For example, while both House and Senate Republicans would like Saucony Men's Running Shoes

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"Let's turn that one time money into a lifetime stream of income for our agriculture producers," Vehle told lawmakers last month.

"There will be enough money to pay for what I'd call the big three: 3 percent for education, providers, employees," said Sen. Tim Rave, the Senate Republican leader.

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