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Texas Gets $2.3 Million dollar gift from South Dakota

PIERRE — Governor Kristi Noem confirmed Thursday that when she sent South Dakota National Guard troops to help Texas secure the U.S.-Mexico border, she did so with the understanding that the costs would not be reimbursed.

“If you look at the amount of dollars that Texas has spent in protection of the southern border, which is a federal government responsibility, it’s over $4 billion,” Noem said. “And so they were very clear: ‘You can come and help us, but this will be a financial responsibility that you as a state will need to take on.’”

She made the comments during an impromptu press conference at the Capitol, her first with the Capitol press corps so far this legislative session, which began Jan. 9. The press conference came one day after Noem spoke to a joint session of the Legislature about her trip last week to the border.

Noem sent South Dakota National Guard troops to the border twice in 2021 and once last year. One of the deployments was federally requested, and the troops were on federal pay status. Noem ordered the other two, resulting in costs of at least $1.3 million that she paid from South Dakota’s Emergency and Disaster Fund. Another $1 million came from a private donor in Tennessee.

“So those two previous deployments that we paid for, we knew we were going to have to pay for them as a state,” Noem said. She added, “And it is one of the considerations that I’m looking at as well before we decide to send the Guard again.”State aid agreements typically reimbursed.

A Texas official separately confirmed Thursday that the state has an agreement with South Dakota through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, known by the acronym EMAC. The compact is a nationwide mutual aid agreement among states.

“The state of Texas’ EMAC Resource Support Agreements that have been signed with the state of South Dakota for border support, from July 2021 forward, clearly state that the support and resources provided are at no cost to the State of Texas,” wrote Seth Christensen, of the Texas Division of Emergency Management.

Christensen said that “due to the nationwide benefit of a secure international border with Mexico,” the state of Texas “has requested that assisting states absorb associated costs with this mission in support of the entire country.”

Earlier this week at the South Dakota Capitol, a Noem administration official testified during a legislative hearing that similar aid to other states has been paid back.

“All of our EMAC missions have been reimbursed by the states that have requested our assistance, except for the state of Texas,” said Kristi Turman, of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

South Dakota Searchlight asked Noem on Thursday why she made an exception for Texas. Noem disputed the notion that all other aid agreements with other states are reimbursed.

“There are times when there’s agreements, and some are reimbursed by other states, and some aren’t,” Noem said.

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