Gov. Dennis Daugaard
When she was in the third grade, Linda Krutzfeldt received a Colorado blue spruce seedling. It was 1986 and a South Dakota Department of Agriculture forester was giving an Arbor Day presentation at Linda's school in Huron. To go along with his presentation, the forester brought little trees for the children.
During the 2016 session, the state Legislature passed a package of three bills, based on the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. The purpose of these bills was to direct new funding to school districts to increase teacher salaries. I'm pleased to report that this effort has been a success. A new survey by the state Department of Education indicates that the average teacher salary is $46,924. This represents a one-year increase of 11.9 percent.
In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, creating the interstate highway system. Along with 41,000 miles of roadway came construction of interstate rest areas, which served a dual purpose: to provide basic services for motorists and give travelers a place to get out, stretch their legs and rest.
Pheasant hunting comes as naturally as the changing colors of autumn here in South Dakota. Our hunters look forward to opening day like kids looking forward to Christmas. When pheasant season begins, the hunters are everywhere. In Eureka, Mitchell, Faulkton, Winner, Armour, Miller, Vivian, Hoven or Huron areas on a Saturday morning in mid-October, you'll see orange armies of hunters ready to hit the fields.
Eight decades ago, in 1936, South Dakota received a presidential visit. It was the height of the Great Depression and the state was in the middle of the worst drought in history. Tom Berry, who was serving as governor at the time, took on the responsibilities of directing New Deal programs for the state. He was the only governor to do so. Managing federal aid programs led Gov. Berry to have a good working relationship with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration, and when the President came to South Dakota, Gov. Berry served as his tour guide.
In January of 2012, I introduced in my State of the State Address a proposal to comprehensively reform our criminal justice system. The Public Safety Improvement Act legislation was pieced together with help from the Chief Justice, legislative leaders and stakeholders from across the state. The bill passed with overwhelming support.
Across South Dakota, a new school year is getting underway. Students and families are getting back into the school day routine, reestablishing study habits and juggling activities. In order to succeed in school, students are often reminded to listen to their teachers, complete homework assignments on time and cooperate with their classmates. There is another simple practice we sometimes overlook that is absolutely critical: consistent school attendance. It seems obvious, but the importance of attendance cannot be overstated.
Over the past several years, South Dakota has seen a rise in the use of methamphetamine, or meth. In our state, 3.8 percent of high school students have tried meth. That is slightly higher than the national average of 3 percent. Approximately 15,000 South Dakotans, age 12 and up, were dependent on or abused illicit drugs in 2015, including meth.
It's almost rally time in South Dakota. What started in 1938 as a single motorcycle race in a small town has grown into one of the largest and best-known motorcycle gatherings in the world. This year is the 76th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and though we don't expect the numbers will approach the levels we saw last year, the rally is sure to be well-attended.
Flags across South Dakota have been at half-staff for most of the last two weeks. Following the violence perpetrated in Dallas, France and Baton Rouge, President Obama issued three consecutive proclamations calling for the lowering of the flag. Even though our state has not been directly affected by this recent senseless violence, we are not untouched. We too feel the losses, and we mourn with the rest of the nation.