Gov. Dennis Daugaard
In the 2016 session legislators serving on the appropriations committee adopted a new budget process. With the goal of more thoroughly evaluating the state's budget while improving timeliness, appropriators held budget hearings earlier and adhered to new deadlines. Their new process worked. Under appropriators' leadership, South Dakota has once again adopted a balanced budget that continues a tradition of low spending.
A significant number of Americans struggle with mental illness. For many the struggle is silent. Some experience short-term mental health problems, as it's not uncommon for individuals to temporarily face mild forms of mental illness throughout their lives. For others though, it's a lifelong battle that requires consistent treatment. No community is untouched by mental illness. It deeply affects schools, workplaces and families.
Until he went abroad to serve his country, Michael J. Fitzmaurice had never left the Dakotas. Fitzmaurice was born in Jamestown, North Dakota, and grew up in South Dakota. Coming from a family with a history of serving, Michael carried on the tradition by joining the Army in 1969.
On March 6, the United States lost a beloved First Lady. As partner to the most powerful man in the world, First Lady Nancy Reagan chose to devote her time in the White House to a cause that is as relevant today as it was when she announced it 30 years ago. This, of course, is Mrs. Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign.
The main run of the 2016 Legislative Session has just concluded. In nine intense weeks, state legislators have grappled with some of the most important issues facing South Dakota—everything from education, to hunting, to public safety, to transportation, to health care. Many of the actions taken this year will have an impact for years and decades to come.
This week, the South Dakota State Legislature gave final passage to House Bill 1182. This important legislation directs approximately $70 million to significant pay increases for our public school teachers, as well as instructors at the state's technical institutes. The bill also directs nearly $40 million to property tax relief.
On Friday, Feb. 19, we learned Moody's has upgraded South Dakota's lease-revenue bond rating to Aa1. This is great news for South Dakota. Aa1 is the highest rating South Dakota can receive from Moody's. It is equivalent to the AAA rating we received from Standard & Poor's last spring.
Under the South Dakota Constitution, the governor is "responsible for the faithful execution of the law." This is not something I take lightly. In my second term I have been especially focused on executing new reforms passed by our legislators — and not simply executing but executing well. Without good execution, a well-intentioned law is meaningless, and the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative is one thing I'm determined to execute well.
This week, the legislative session reached its halfway point. Legislators are working hard as they consider bills on a wide range of topics. Education funding is a major topic of discussion this year. At the beginning of session, I offered a plan to increase teacher pay and to reform the school funding formula. My plan is based on proposals made by the Blue Ribbon Task Force, which met throughout the past year.
Over the last few months, the Spearfish Canyon Foundation has been working with the state Game, Fish and Parks Department to acquire a beautiful property from Homestake Mining Company. Within just a few weeks the Foundation will donate funds to Game, Fish and Parks for the purchase of 73 acres in Spearfish Canyon, including Spearfish Falls. That land, along with two other adjacent state-owned parcels including Roughlock Falls, is the genesis of an opportunity for our state.