State of the State 2011-DIGEST
By Jenifer Jones
Governor Dennis Daugaard delivered his first State of the State Address Tuesday. Daugaard highlighted several goals for his term as governor.
Governor Dennis Daugaard says his number one priority is to create jobs and grow the economy. He announced plans to work with the ethanol industry and help encourage small businesses in small towns. Daugaard says he also plans to focus heavily on agriculture and the tourism industry. He says South Dakota has the best business climate in the country, and it's important to keep it that way.
"I am proud that South Dakota has the lowest per capita tax burden in the nation," Daugaard says. "I've said many times during my recent campaign that I will not raise taxes except in the case of an emergency like a blizzard or a flood, and I mean it. A recession is the worst time to raise taxes, and if you send me a bill to raise taxes I will veto it. Our second advantage is our reasonable, predictable and simple regulations. But this second advantage can be improved. It is the nature of government over time to become more regulatory, and we must be deliberate about resisting and reversing this. Over the next year we must take a comprehensive review of regulations in every agency in government. We must first repeal the regulations we don't need. Secondly, we must simplify those that are too complex. And third we must seek the input of our customers, those who are regulated, to find ways to make government more streamlined and sensible."
Daugaard says the foundation of our economy is an educated workforce. He says he's it's important to focus on the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. He says while he wants to promote new approaches in education, he also wants to allow local school boards and administrators to run their own districts.
"That is why I will be sponsoring bills this year to repeal the 100 student minimum for state aid to school districts, and also to remove the cap on school district reserve fund balances," Daugaard says. "We must trust local officials to make the best decisions for their districts. And if they fail, we must trust local voters to find new local officials."
The Governor says he's also going to focus on lowering the state's infant mortality rate. He says South Dakota's rate is significantly higher than our neighboring states, and has worsened over the past decade.
"It has been said that the infant mortality rate is the gold standard for measuring the health of a population," Daugaard says. "I will make it a priority to face this problem head on. We already know many of the factors that contribute to infant deaths. Too many mothers in our state, almost 20 percent, use tobacco products while they're pregnant. In one-third of South Dakota counties, over 30 percent of mothers don't seek prenatal care during the first trimester. And more young parents need to learn about safe sleep positions and other important infant care tips."
Governor Daugaard says the Bright Start home visitation program in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Pine Ridge is an important resource for lowering the mortality rate, and he says he will encourage doctors, hospitals, parents, and state and tribal leaders to work together to face the problem. He says this is only one of many issues that require state and tribal leaders to work together.
"Our reservations are integral parts of our state," Daugaard says. "And I do not view any challenges faced there as tribal challenges. They are South Dakota challenges. As governor I am going to work very hard to build a positive working relationship between the state and each of our nine tribes. I want to base these relationships on two principles. First, I will always remember that the nine tribes are nine separate governments, each with their own set of circumstances. They should not be subject to a one size fits all approach. Second, I want to be respectful of the wishes of tribal leaders. My first question to them will be ‘what are your challenges and opportunities?' And my second question will be, ‘how can we work together?"
Daugaard says he is creating a cabinet level Secretary of Tribal Relations. Among other organizational changes, the Governor is abolishing the Department of Tourism and State Development and elevating the Governor's Office of Economic Development and the Department of Tourism into the cabinet.
The Governor touched on his plans for the budget, which includes eliminating the structural deficit and not using one-time money to perpetuate over spending. He will go into those issues in detail in his budget address Wednesday, January 19.
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