Gov. Dennis Daugaard
In the 1990s, Gov. George S. Mickelson started a new tradition in South Dakota called "Capital for a Day." Gov. Mickelson would travel to a community and issue an executive proclamation declaring that town as South Dakota's Capital for a Day. He would spend the day touring the town, talking with people of the community and getting input from local leaders.
Friday, March 10, was the last day of the main run of the 2017 legislative session. Although the session was more “low profile” than in some past years, we can all be proud of our legislators’ hard work. South Dakota balances its budget every year, and the Legislature overcame very slow revenue growth to pass a structurally balanced budget again this year. I was very pleased that we were also able to find a way to offer small inflationary increases to K-12 schools and many Medicaid providers.
The word that best sums up the public trust held by elected officials is stewardship. Stewardship — the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care — has been my goal as governor. It is through good stewardship that we balance the budget each year, make improvements to the state pension system and adopt new budget practices.
A significant number of Americans struggle with mental illness. For many the struggle is silent. Some experience short-term mental health problems. It's not uncommon for individuals temporarily to face mild forms of mental illness at some point during their lives. For others though, it's a lifelong battle that requires consistent treatment. No community is untouched by mental illness. It affects schools, workplaces and families.
I recently heard a story about a young man who was exposed to meth as a child. The young man, named Chris, grew up around meth and the violence that the drug brings. Like any normal kid, he wanted attention from the adults in his life. But while most kids are trying to gain approval by getting good grades, making the basketball team or winning a role in the school play, at 12 years old Chris began to use and deal meth to receive that attention. Using and dealing led Chris to get into fights and to start stealing. At age 17, Chris overdosed.
South Dakota is a state with a low tax burden. We are one of only seven states without a personal income tax. We also have no corporate income tax, no business inventory tax, no personal property tax and no inheritance tax. People who live here get to keep more of their earnings. We are a state that instead relies on a sales tax. Unfortunately, sales tax revenues have been below projections every month of the current fiscal year, which began in July. The farm economy is one reason for weakness in the sales tax. Another reason is the continued growth of online sales.
This past week, the state budget office issued South Dakota's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or what those of us within state government sometimes refer to as "the CAFR." The Bureau of Finance and Management made the report public on the Friday before New Year's Day. Just like a business, each year South Dakota prepares audited financial statements. These statements are required by law, and are used to qualify us to receive federal funds. The report is also reviewed by agencies which evaluate our state's credit worthiness.
For a state like South Dakota, with five times as many cattle and twice as many hogs and chickens as we have citizens, livestock health is a big deal. We all know the tremendous impact the livestock sector has on our state's economy, but it's easy to forget the connection between livestock health and human health. Livestock disease control techniques have advanced rapidly in recent years in response to worldwide disease epidemics. Since 2013, South Dakota has seen outbreaks of four new diseases not previously seen in the United States.
The years go faster as one gets older, and as 2016 closes, I have been thinking back on the past year. As always, Linda and I have much to be thankful for. We are also remembering four good friends and great South Dakotans who we lost this year.
Christmas is a special time in South Dakota, and it was no less special in the 1880s. Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of The Little House on the Prairie series, lived on a homestead near De Smet, and wrote about Christmas in Dakota Territory in "The Long Winter."