Gov. Dennis Daugaard
In South Dakota we have the third lowest unemployment rate in the nation. This is a source of pride, but it's also a double-edged sword. Because so few South Dakotans are unemployed, we have a shortage of qualified workers to fill job openings. We lack skilled workers in accounting, engineering, information technology, healthcare, manufacturing trades and elsewhere.
Traffic fatalities are a recurring headline. Hardly a day goes by when we don't read another story, hear a radio report or see the terrible images on television. The good news is the numbers indicate a decrease of traffic fatalities in South Dakota. In 2016, there were 115 fatal vehicle crashes. That is the lowest total since 2011 and the second lowest of all time.
In 1973, a woman by the name of Beverly Gabriel decided to leave her profession to get back to her roots. She had received a teaching degree from Black Hills State University a few years earlier and had taught in Rapid City and Wyoming. Her parents were growing older and it was becoming difficult for them to manage their two operations in separate parts of the state. When Bev's father approached her about managing Blue Bell Ranch near Clear Lake, she readily accepted.
“South Dakota draws an ace.” That was one headline following the gubernatorial election of Joe Foss. The plain-spoken, unpretentious South Dakota hero held many titles throughout his life, only one of which was “governor.”
South Dakotans are not afraid to do things differently when different means a better way. “Different” defines how we have been running our state’s retirement system. Many other state retirement systems are struggling with large unfunded liabilities. New Jersey’s credit rating was downgraded by S&P recently due to its “large and growing unfunded pension liability.” Similarly, Illinois was downgraded by Fitch from BBB+ to BBB, partly because of ballooning pension problems.
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.