County reps: State aid for indigent court costs appreciated, won’t solve funding dilemma
Gov. Noem’s proposal would cost $1.4 million in yearly funding and could save counties up to $600k a year
Gov. Kristi Noem is entering the field of policymakers in Pierre trying to address financial challenges facing South Dakota’s counties.
But for those on the front lines of the county funding dilemma, a more holistic approach comprised of multiple legislative proposals is closer to the answer than any single piece of legislation — including the governor’s.
Noem unveiled her proposal Tuesday during her annual budget address, adding to the myriad of ideas slated for discussion during the 2024 legislative session that came out of a legislative summer session on the issue.
Her plan aims to alleviate one of the counties’ most substantial financial burdens – funding for legal defenses. It envisions the creation of a statewide indigent defense commission, which could shoulder up to $600,000 in costs currently borne by counties. The idea comes courtesy of Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Jensen and a summer study committee focused on the role of public defenders in South Dakota.