If there’s anything to be said about South Dakota, it’s that we certainly know how to keep things interesting. Our legislators, our own elected officials who sit comfortably in the state capitol, should probably remind themselves to tighten their belts a bit. Maybe not literally, but certainly figuratively, as they’re looking at a $1400 slice off their salaries in the upcoming year.
That’s right, folks. Pinnow and his band of merry lawmakers will see their paychecks shrink from a nearly respectable $14,800 to a slightly less awe-inspiring $13,400. This isn’t the latest fad diet, but it might just feel like it to our esteemed legislators. And if they’re wondering who to blame for this monetary weight loss, they might want to check in the mirror.
Now, we’re not saying every legislator is responsible for this economic hiccup. But if the shoe fits, well, they’re going to have to squeeze into it and deal with the blisters. It’s not just the cowboys who need to learn to ride out a storm in this state.
It used to be that our legislators’ salaries were just enough to keep them in cowboy boots and bolo ties. But in an admirable (or perhaps misguided, depending on who you ask) attempt to tie their fortunes to those of average South Dakotans, they connected their salaries to the state’s median household income five years ago.
So, what’s happened in the past five years? Not much, that’s what. At least not in the right direction. Sure, they gave themselves a raise in 2018 to keep up with inflation. But since then, it seems South Dakota’s been stuck in an economic rut, spinning its wheels but going nowhere.
Now, we’re not economists, and we don’t pretend to be. But we do understand basic math. And when the median household income goes down, legislators’ paychecks go down. It’s a simple equation – the type you might learn in third grade, or maybe even earlier if you’re particularly advanced.
So, what’s the takeaway here? Perhaps our legislators need to remember the old saying: “Be careful what you wish for”. Because when you wish for a tie with the income of average South Dakotans, you just might get it. And that wish might come with a $1,400 drop in salary. It’s a tough pill to swallow. But then again, they say medicine is good for you.
In any case, we’re looking forward to how this pay cut plays out. Will our legislators suddenly become coupon clippers and discount shoppers? Only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure – it’s going to be an interesting ride.