A meeting of South Dakota legislators devolved into bickering Wednesday, July 21, over a state health facility in Redfield, S.D., that some conservative legislators want to ax.

Shawnie Rechtenbaugh, secretary for the Department of Human Services, addressed the committee overseeing state spending, following up on a visit some committee members made last month to the South Dakota Developmental Center in Redfield, where they saw first-hand the care patients receive. But lawmakers also posed questions about budgeting and efficiencies, given the campus' decline in residents.

The Redfield campus is a short-term residential care facility for persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities. But in recent years, it's come under the scrutiny of appropriators.

On Wednesday she ticked off a number of cost-cutting moves the campus has taken on, including selling land and buildings, centralizing services on the campus, and leaving vacant certain staffing. Rechtenbaugh noted the SDDC served 1,200 residents in the 1960s and around 80 today.
"The services we provide are a very specialized service for individuals who are not yet ready or net yet able to live in the community," Rechtenbaugh said.

Still, Rechtenbaugh's presentation didn't sate some legislators on the Republican-dominated committee who are looking for cost-savings. Co-chair Rep. Chris Karr, R-Sioux Falls, pressed Rechtenbaugh for imposing a "five-year-strategic plan" on the Department of Health's operations in Redfield.