This month South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed a $4 billion budget for the state that included some increases for Medicaid services that were cut last year to close a budget gap. The economy is doing well in the state, and Medicaid providers will get a 1.8-percent increase.

State employees get a raise — an average of 3 percent. Employee salaries in the Department of Social Services (DSS) will go up 7.3 percent, and employee benefits will go up 4.7 percent.

Grants and subsidies increase 3.5 percent. Overall, contributions from the general fund to DSS go up more than $3.3 million, from $55.7 million in fiscal year 2012 to more than $59 million in fiscal year 2013. Federal funding goes down by $56,000, staying basically level at $37 million. The total DSS budget for FY 2013 is $35 million for employees and $63 million for operating expenses.

But whether this good news translates into good news for the beleaguered substance abuse providers in the state is unclear. Last year they saw their hold on contracts threatened by mass firings of state officials with expertise in substance abuse (see ADAW August 8, November 11, 2011). Nobody who currently is funded by the state would talk to ADAW on the record about this because, they said, they were afraid of losing their funding in retaliation. Neither DSS nor the Governor’s budget office responded to queries about the FY 2013 budget — we obtained the information from the South Dakota Legislative Research Council.

Treatment providers weren’t encouraged by the report that South Dakota received an “F” in the State Integrity Investigation released last week. Governor Daugaard’s chief of staff Dusty Johnson told reporters that he doesn’t believe it — and then said that the state handles ethics issues by firing people. “Every year there are plenty of people in state government who get fired because they violate state policies, procedures or state law,” he told KSFY March 19. “And when you think about it, that's a pretty good way to handle it because if you break the law, you're in trouble and we don't need an ethics commission to tell us that, that's common sense and the South Dakota way,” Johnson told reporters.

For the state integrity investigation report, go to http://www.stateintegrity.org/state_integrity_invesitgation_overview_story.