Last week, the South Dakota Budget and Policy Project (SDBPP) launched their new website and released their South Dakota Budget Primer: A Guide to the South Dakota Budget Process. The guide is designed to offer readers assistance in “understanding the components of the state budget, how it is created, and some of the priorities and choices it reflects.”
The group is one of the latest additions to the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative (SFAI), a nationwide network of nonprofit groups working on state tax and budget policy coordinated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. If you aren't familiar with the good work done by the SFAI group in your state, you should be, as these groups will be directly involved in efforts to make state tax systems fairer and more sustainable as a means of closing continuing budget shortfalls in 2011.
The group's existence is especially exciting because, according to ITEP's 2009 ranking of state tax fairness, Who Pays, South Dakota has one of the five most chronically unfair tax systems in the nation. As the Budget Primer points out, the main reason for this is that the state has no personal income tax, coupled with its especially high sales tax. The Primer is a valuable resource for stakeholders seeking to understand next steps for reforming the state's out-of-balanced tax system.
The guide closes by saying, “It is citizen involvement — your involvement — that helps assure that South Dakota’s budget priorities reflect our values and meet the needs of our state.”