Governor Daugaard on South Dakota Focus
By Jenifer Jones and Travis Berg
Governor Dennis Daugaard has a lot on his plate as the legislative session gets underway. Last week he was a guest on SDPB TV's South Dakota Focus and discussed how he plans to address some of the challenges he'll face.
One major issue on Governor Dennis Daugaard's agenda is getting the state's budget under control. He says he wants to eliminate the structural deficit and stop using one-time money for ongoing spending needs. Daugaard will lay out his plan in detail in his budget address on Wednesday. He cautions South Dakotans to not make judgments until they hear the full address for themselves.
"I think before one evaluates the solutions that are offered, I think we also must first understand the condition in which we find ourselves," Daugaard says. "So the budget address will spend a fair amount of time describing the history of our revenue and the history of our expenditures and the condition in which we find ourselves. And then it will go on to propose a solution to alleviate that condition. And I hope the viewers will, before they make a decision about whether my proposals are good or bad, I hope they look at them first."
Daugaard says he'll ask everyone to share in making sacrifices, and no area will remain untouched when cuts are made. Cuts to education are often met with opposition, but Daugaard says it's important to measure education not by how much schools spend or receive, but by what students achieve.
"To suggest that we spend more for the simple reason that we can say we're spending more or sending more I don't think meets the object," Daugaard says. "Every government program should be measured not by how much is spent, but on what you get out of it. I must say too, if you look at where South Dakota has been spending its money, my budget address will talk about where we have been spending more money over the past eight years. And to the extent that we've had more money to spend, it has really gone into two areas. It has gone into Medicaid, and it has gone into education. And other areas of the government really are quite a bit behind those two categories."
While Daugaard says managing the budget for the short term requires some difficult decisions, he hopes to make those decisions less painful in the long run by increasing economic development in the state.
"And I plan to be South Dakota's number one salesman," Daugaard says. "I mentioned that in my State of the State, I've said that along the way. I do think Governor Rounds did a very good job of closing deals; I've been in the room when he closed some deals. I think I'd like to be involved as a door opener as well, and I think the Governor has some cachet that can get us into the boardrooms of companies that might consider moving to South Dakota, and I think I can help in that regard."
The Governor says part of his plan involves splitting economic development and tourism into two offices.
"Our former secretary of tourism and state development, he was expected to be at every tourism event, and every economic development event," Daugaard says. "He would also have deputy directors in charge of each of those two sections. So I just think it made more sense to have each of those divisions be cabinet secretaries in their own right and just have single heads of each. I think it also elevates both of them to have each of them with a cabinet secretary seated at the cabinet table when broader statewide decisions are made."
Daugaard says he also wants to make economic development a priority on South Dakota's Indian reservations, but he says he wants to be guided by the wishes of tribal leaders.
"One of the things I'm going to be doing after the end of session, and certainly when we've identified the tribal relations secretary, is going and visiting with each tribal chair or tribal president on each reservation," Daugaard says. "I want to develop a relationship with leadership on each reservation and talk about the issues that are particular to each reservation. I think in the past we've tended to take a one size fits all approach to the reservations and say ‘the tribes are this' or ‘the tribes are that.' Well that's just as stereotypical as anything else. I think each tribe must be treated as a separate government and I think each tribe must be approached and a relationship built."
South Dakotans will learn more about how Governor Daugaard plans to address the challenges facing the state when he delivers his budget address on Wednesday. You can watch live on SDPB-TV, and listen on SDPB Radio or online.
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